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Govt seeks 'win-win' e-toll solution

Sep 21 2012 08:29 Sapa

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Johannesburg - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has called for cool heads to prevail in the Gauteng e-tolling saga, and said the government was seeking a win-win approach for all involved.

"Theoretically, if the government wants to go and collect tolls tomorrow, it can go ahead and collect them, but that's not the issue," Gordhan told SAfm on Friday morning.

"The issue is how do we go back to the constituents and try to arrive at an understanding at how we are going forward?

"From the government's side, I can indicate very clearly we are looking for a win-win approach to the outcomes in this matter and we hope that all parties will join us in that."

He said a committee of ministers, chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, had consulted with "various stakeholders" on the controversial e-tolling project, and was evaluating their concerns.

"We've heard their views on various matters and whether this is right or wrong, and whether it is correct to use e-tolling versus physical tolling. What are the financial issues at play?

"We are in the process of evaluating all of these comments and our own position and, very shortly, we'll go back to each of the groups that the deputy president has met and inform them of our view and, indeed, inform the public as well," said Gordhan.

He said there were several options to consider, such as continuing with e-tolling, or reverting to physical tolling, or increasing the fuel levy.

"Now remember that in the course of the debate we've had, there's been a lot of regrettable emotions which doesn't help to keep a clear head on these matters and, if anything, we have learnt in these few weeks in South Africa... it's very important for leaders to keep a clear, rational approach to these matters," said Gordhan.

"We'll have to ask ourselves, given our current economic context, given the fact that we have to pay this debt, given that we don't want to burden all taxpayers in an incorrect way, what's the right balance to find?"

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court set aside a high court order halting the collection of e-tolls.

In April, the High Court in Pretoria granted the interdict, and ruled that a full review had to be carried out before electronic tolling could be put into effect.

The interdict prevented the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of the review.

Sanral and National Treasury appealed against the court order, and said delays prevented the payment of the R21bn incurred building gantries.

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