“The Gauteng economy cannot afford any impediment to the traffic flow, since such an impediment will stifle economic growth that leads to job creation,” Zuma told The New Age and SABC business briefing in Port Elizabeth.
Because of increased traffic flow the roads in general were unable to cope and this had affected road users and economic development.
He said the tolling of Gauteng’s roads was an issue that had been consulted on and accepted by Cabinet.
“The rationale behind the freeways improvement project is that Gauteng, which generates nearly 38 percent of the total value of South Africa’s economic activities, has developed beyond its infrastructural capabilities.
“The open tolling system will assist government to obtain revenue that will be utilised in order to improve the road infrastructure, service debt already incurred for the upgraded freeway network in Gauteng and ensure a well-maintained and upgraded road network into the future.”
He said it was understood that for people affected by poverty and unemployment, it was an additional financial burden, however, the infrastructure development would also create jobs which would help to ease the burden.
To ease the financial strain, he reiterated government’s decision — as announced in budget speech — to reduce the costs and cap the toll fees for motorcycles and light vehicles at R550 a month.
“We plead for your understanding because at the end of the day, we have to develop and strengthen the road infrastructure of Gauteng.
“If we don’t increase the infrastructure development of the roads in Johannesburg then [in] Johannesburg, the economic activities will be suffocated.”
Zuma said a recent nationwide protest against e-tolling did not mean government was at odds with the convenor of the march, the Congress of SA Trade Unions.
“We are not on a collision course. This is a democratic country. They have a right to raise their concerns… a right to protest.”
However, Zuma inferred that unemployed workers had overlooked the benefits of job creation that would come from building the economy.
“You can’t stop the process when you are calling for jobs. That’s the kind of contradiction you have got to deal with,” said Zuma.
He did not eliminate the possibility of tolls being rolled out in other metropolitan cities.
“If other cities develop [to the extent of Johannesburg]… there is no law that it will not happen.”
Referring to blacked-out documents on the freeway improvement project, which were delivered to Cosatu by the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), Zuma said he was also confused.
“I don’t know what the logic is. I didn’t understand it either. If you have committed yourself to give information, to be transparent, you must adhere to that.”
He said he had also questioned Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele about the incident, but he too could not explain Sanral’s rationale.
“It doesn’t make sense,” said Zuma.
Article source: http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/article4297083.ece