Faced with calls from various groups, including Cosatu, representing trade unions, and Naamsa (the association of automobile manufacturers, which employs members of trade unions) and the Automobile Association to scrap toll roads in favour of a fuel levy to finance roads, the government has decided to adopt the worst features of both systems — to continue tolls, but to subidise them by means of an increased fuel levy.
That is the kind of compromise that gives “compromise” a bad name.
It also represents very muddled thinking on the part of the government, as the following shows: Lobby groups call for fuel levy as alternative to road tolling:
The government is seeking a balance between funding road infrastructure from a combination of direct payments from the National Treasury and funds generated from methods that rely on the user-pays method such as tolling, Department of Transport director-general George Mahlalela says.
How to get the best blend of these two opposing principles would be central to the outcomes of the road funding summit that is due to take place within the next two months, Mahlalela said in an interview this week.
The “opposed principles” are not like that at all. A fuel levy is the best, fairest and most easily implemented version of the “user pays” principle. “Toll roads” are an unfair, cumbersome and difficult way of implementing the principle.
If the Department of Transport cannot understand this, then it is really being run by incompetent people and needs to be overhauled.
Don’t let anyone fool you by saying that the e-tolling system is an implementatio0n of the principle of user pays. That’s just a propaganda smokescreen.
- User Pays = Fuel Levy
- Some Users Pay = Toll Roads
Until the 1970s South Africa’s road construction and maintenance was financed by a fuel levy. Then the National Party government of the time decided to appropriate the road fund to finance its military adventures in countries like Angola, and its surrogate operations by groups like Renamo in Mocambiue — and for that readon toll roads were introduced, to cover the deficit in the road fund.
Do we will need to destabilise Angola and Mocambique?
If not, there is no excuse for toll roads at all, and let’s go back to a road fund paid for by fuel levies.
And here are some of the people who have been calling for this:
The Gauteng toll fees should be absorbed by the increase in the fuel levy, the Automobile Association said on Wednesday.
“We are convinced that despite the latest offering from government the cost to the consumer, as far as the Gauteng tolls are concerned, is going to hit home hard when commodity prices increase as well as transport costs,” said spokesperson Gary Ronald in a statement.
And from the trade unions E-tolling is ‘commodification of public services’ | ITWeb:
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) will march against the contentious e-tolling system on 7 March.
The union body adds that, during the State of the Nation address, it hopes to hear president Jacob Zuma announce that government is going to completely scrap the Gauteng e-tolling system and quash rumours that it is going to do no more than reduce the price of the tolls.
People like Julius Malema have calld for nationaluisation of wasting assets like the mines, but what they should be calling for is nationalisation of growing assets, like the transport infrastructure.
As Cosatu goes on to say E-tolling is ‘commodification of public services’ | ITWeb:
Cosatu says it will go ahead with its march. “We are utterly opposed to the commodification of more and more public services and believe that our roads are a public asset, not a commodity to create massive profits for private companies.
“E-tolling is a system of capitalism and will benefit only those that are financially healthy and not the poor.”