Government has noted the protest action organised by trade union federation, Cosatu against the implementation of electronic tolling on some sections of highways in Gauteng.
We respect the right of individuals and organisations to protest as enshrined in and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic as long as it is carried out within the confines of the law.
Government restates its position on the matter that sufficient and thorough consultation processes were undertaken when the decision to upgrade the road network in question was first taken five years ago.
As required by law, the Minister of Transport consulted the public when the process of declaring the affected road network was initiated in 2007.
Further consultations followed, including the Environmental Impact Assessment, engagements at Nedlac, the Steering Committee established to look into this matter, stakeholder engagement processes undertaken by the Inter-Ministerial Committee established by cabinet in the past six months, among others.
All matters of concern were adequately addressed with concerned parties in all these sessions.
Assertions that this project is being forced on South Africans are therefore devoid of truth.
We urge South Africans to also take time and look at the positive spin-offs of the implementation of electronic tolling.
Not only does this project assist government with the building of much needed road infrastructure, but it also addresses several issues such as the early detection of incidents along the road network and therefore triggering a speedy response.
Travel times have also been reduced due the construction of additional lanes.
Government has already made several concessions that seek to lessen the financial burden on the consumer, i.e. the reduction of toll tariffs, exemption of public transport and other qualifying categories, introduction of discounts for regular users, the injection of almost R6 billion by the National Treasury in February, among others.