AA objects to e-toll police unit
The Automobile Association strongly objects to plans to establish a dedicated traffic police unit.
By Samuel Mungadze
The Automobile Association (AA) has strongly objected to plans by South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) to establish a dedicated traffic police unit, saying it could be construed as the establishment of a private army for the sole purpose of toll enforcement.
The AA, known for its strong anti-tolling stance, on Thursday criticised Sanral's draft regulations, which seek to introduce amendments to the current regulations in order to enforce the controversial e-tolling system on Gauteng's freeways.
"Constituting a new traffic police force just for the benefit of Sanral could be construed as the establishment of a private army for the sole purpose of toll enforcement," said Gary Ronald the Head of Public Affairs at the AA.
The association has been a critic of e-tolling and has made it known to both Sanral and government that the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) should be halted.
"The AA remains publically opposed to e-tolling. In placing the AA's comments to the draft regulations on record, we are objecting on a number of issues," said Ronald.
The controversial Gauteng toll project was initially scheduled to be enforced in June last year but was put on hold due to increased public objections, and will now be introduced on April 30.
Earlier this year, Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele ordered Sanral to put on hold all projects related to toll roads, amid growing public dissatisfaction with the proposed fees, which, at the time varied from 40 cents/km for light motor vehicles, R1/km for medium-sized vehicles and R2/km for longer, heavy-duty trucks.
"Firstly, we object to the short time made available for public comment, especially during a holiday period. The normally acceptable notice period for public comment on South African legislation is 30 days whereas comment on these proposed regulations has been limited to just 20 days - including the Easter public holidays and school break," Ronald said.
The association argued that there was limited public participation and comments regarding these regulations, and suggested a review and extension of the project to broader public participation.
"This disregard of process and on-going bullying attitude to force compliance is a hallmark of the limited consultative process government has followed from the outset with respect to the GFIP, and more specifically, the urban tolling issue," AA said.