25 June 2012

South Africa: Churches Welcome GFIP but Want More Talks

Pretoria — Religious leaders have welcomed the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and saw it as an important infrastructure project that would improve South Africa's economic activity as well as the lives of the people using the highways.

This is according to a statement issued following a meeting between the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and the Inter-ministerial Committee on GFIP led by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The SACC, however, wanted more consultation on the project and welcomed government's efforts to open up discussions, engage and listen to their concerns with a view to reaching an amicable solution.

The statement said while the SACC accepted the rationale of the GFIP as part of the strategy to decongest the roads, they expressed concerns at the state of public transport and urged government to take urgent steps to provide a reliable, efficient and quality public transport system.

"The meeting agreed that while this morning's (engagements) were fruitful and an important milestone to resolving issues, there needs to be further and regular consultations on a number of issues affecting South Africans. The meeting resolved to continue discussions, including e-tolling as part of GFIP, in the near future," read the statement.

Motlanthe welcomed the discussions and undertook that once all consultations were concluded, Cabinet would consider all suggestions and decide on the way forward.

Government is appealing to the Constitutional Court in a bid to set aside a high court order halting e-tolling. The Treasury argues that motorists should pay for using the province's freeways or the country could face a negative credit rating.

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