Midrand — As the tolling system on Gauteng's freeways commenced at midnight, close to 800 000 motorists had registered for e-tags, says Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.
"As of yesterday, we have slightly below 800 000 e-tags that have been committed," said the minister, who visited the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) operations centre in Midrand on Tuesday to monitor the first day of the system going live.
"I would like to encourage citizens, particularly the users of the e-tolled roads in Gauteng to cooperate with [SANRAL] so that it can continue to deliver world class roads. Your cooperation can be demonstrated by getting registered, getting tagged and paying your toll fees," said Peters.
Monthly toll costs
She said the actual expected monthly tariffs payable by individual users had been overestimated by critics of the project.
About 83 percent of light motor vehicle drivers will not pay more than R100 per month and 0.59 percent of motorists in the same vehicle class will reach the maximum cap of R450 per month.
"These numbers have been derived from the actual vehicle data collected by the toll system. Again, those who oppose the project are free to do so, but even from the opponents, certain minimum standards are expected when it comes to engagement and debate," she said.
Peters said the system would enhance safety on the roads because there were high definition cameras that were monitoring traffic on a 24/7 basis.
The minister described the commencement of the e-tolling system as a long and sometimes difficult journey since it was conceptualised in 1996.
The commencement was delayed by about four court cases opposing the project, but the courts ruled in favour SANRAL and government.
"We are disappointed that some of our citizens and leaders, including those who have in the past styled themselves as champions of the rule of law, will not this time around accept the rule of law.
"It is a sad day when those who profess to be democrats question the integrity of the judiciary and will not accept its ruling simply because the decisions have not gone their way," she said.
History of GFIP
In 1996, Gauteng identified a toll roads network project for the province, which was followed by the 1998 Gauteng Toll Road Strategy.
In 2006, the Gauteng transport network integration process produced a proposal for a "Gauteng Freeway Improvement Scheme".
The proposal identified certain challenges in relation to the province's transport system, with the key one being insufficient road space relative to transport.
In July 2007, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) was tabled before Cabinet for approval. Cabinet approved the project and confirmed that the project will be undertaken by SANRAL as a toll road, with tolls to be collected through an electronic open road system.