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Halt on e-tolls welcomed

Nov 23 2012 13:45
Johannesburg - The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has welcomed the hold put on the so-called e-toll bill.

"It is a sign that government is taking note of, and acting on public views," Sacci said in a statement on Friday.

"However, an equitable way must be found to finance the improvements to the roads when the debate resumes in February next year."

The bill was withdrawn from debate in parliament on Thursday.

Transport department spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso said the portfolio committee had held its public hearings and was due to bring the matter before parliament.

"The bill has not been withdrawn. The portfolio committee on transport had to give parliament a three-day notice for the matter to be brought before the National Assembly. The matter has been postponed for discussion," he said.

Rikhotso said that while the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) was ready to implement e-tolling by the end of this year, Transport Minister Ben Martins felt it was important to allow "the parliamentary process to run its course".

Sacci said the fact that a substantial percentage of the e-toll fees would go to the administrative cost of the system was unacceptable.

A more efficient revenue-collecting model needed to be found.

"The withdrawal and delay in adopting a final position on the e-toll [system] reflects on the political sensitivity of the issue. A further implication of this is that the current model will remain unpopular," it said.

It would be convenient politically to explore workable alternative models rather than to enforce the current one.

Sacci said it had prepared a position on broad international best practices in infrastructure development, which it would submit to government and all partners.

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