Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Motlanthe: Address by the Deputy President of South Africa, at the Government-BUSA Engagement on the GFIP, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg
BUSA Deputy President, Adv Brenda Madumise,
BUSA Office Bearers and Members of the Management Team,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Senior Government Officials,
Ladies and gentlemen:
Once again I am pleased to interact with BUSA. Government values regular consultation with organised business on matters of mutual interest.
I am aware that my office and BUSA have been trying to organise this meeting for some time but due to our busy schedules we could not find an earlier date to meet.
Our meeting today will dedicate much time on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.
As Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, I welcome and understand the interest shown by stakeholders and BUSA in this important matter.
We understand that BUSA's interest is that of an organisation representing business on macro-economic and high-level issues that affect it at the national and international levels.
Following the decision of the North Gauteng High Court to halt implementation of the e-toll system on the roads that were declared toll roads in terms of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, we decided to engage in further consultation on the project.
Today will be the first of such consultations and we have already scheduled meetings with other organisations in the coming weeks.
We have taken note of the comments made by the public and various organisations and express our appreciation for the various views and solutions offered and suggested.
As we discuss this project and consider the various suggestions on the funding model, it is necessary that we remind ourselves of the rationale for this project.
The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project was conceived of as part of a strategy to solve the problem of congestion on the Gauteng highways.
The project had to address the following realities:
? The highways in the Gauteng area are severely congested and peak hours have been extending by more than 15 minutes each year;
? Congestion has a negative impact on the economy as a whole because it slows down movement of people and goods;
? Almost half of South Africa's vehicle population is concentrated in Gauteng, which also happens to be the smallest province in geographic size;
? The bulk of our public transport is road-based and with the increasing congestion, even the public transport itself will be
? Most of the roads have reached the end of their design capacity and are in dire need of upgrading.
So, the key question that we need to answer is how to reduce congestion on our roads and make road transit more efficient.
As government, having considered various options for decongestion and funding, we came to the conclusion that the user-pay model was the most equitable.
The user-pay principle is used in many cities of the world where severe traffic congestion is experienced.
Our decision to adopt the user-pay principle is therefore not only about funding, it is about decongesting the freeways.
So, as we discuss various funding options let us not lose sight of the fact that in the end our highways must be decongested.
Part of the decongestion strategy is ensuring that there are alternative roads and a reliable public transport for those who opt not to use the toll roads.
The Gauteng Provincial Government has already commenced with major rehabilitation projects on the alternative roads that link the major
cities in the province.
The Department of Transport is working with the Gauteng Provincial Government and the municipalities to ensure that our public transport
system in the province provides a reliable and efficient service.
I hope that today's deliberations set us on the road to a workable solution for the future of Gauteng's roads and economy and the future of the country's development as a whole.
We are aware that there are matters that frustrate business such as bottlenecks and lengthy periods taken to process business licences. In the PICC we have also discovered that it is always not easy to implement what we need to implement.
Interaction and engagement on an ongoing basis will help us understand better the frustrations faced by business. We also think that ongoing interaction will create an enabling environment. In certain cases we will look at options outside South Africa so that whenever requests are made to the President by his fellow heads of state for capacity can know that such capacity does exist within BUSA members.
So it is very important that we meet on a regular basis. Time should not be a barrier for us to meet, even if it is at short notice.
I hope today's discussions will set us on the road to a workable solution for the future of Gauteng's roads and economy and the future of the country's development as a whole.