The proposed ‘National Traffic Police Freeway Unit’, which would be managed under the Road Traffic Management Corporation and be responsible for traffic policing on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), was likely to cost about R80-million yearly.
In repsonse to a Parliamentary question in which Manny de Freitas of the Democratic Alliance enquired about whether alternative funding options had been interrogated for the GFIP, as well as about how the proposed e-tolling system would be enforced, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said that various mechanisms were in place to ensure that users paid their toll fees.
Besides normal credit-control procedures, the National Traffic Police Freeway Unit would be a key enforcement tool, the Minister indicated.
It would be operational seven days a week, and will conduct enforcement by means of automated number plate recognition that will be completed at freeway on-ramps and on freeway sections. The unit would also focus on normal law enforcement activities, as well as incident management.
A higher tariff would also be charged for late payment, to ensure that compliant users did not subsidise any costs related to the violations. In addition, outstanding toll fees and charges would be collected when motorists renewed their licence discs.
Ndebele said that various funding options had been interrogated, including the use of additional Budget allocations and/or the fuel levy.
But the National Treasury had indicated that the current fuel levy was insufficient to cover existing road construction and maintenance, while there were also constraints to deploying an additional Budgetary allocation, owing to the many social and infrastructure demands on the fiscus.
“The ‘user-pay’ principle is equitable in that those who enjoy the benefit pay for it,” the National Treasury had indicated in a clarification regarding the need for the principle, adding that toll fees promoted economic efficiency and improved accountability and transparency.
However, the opposition to the GFIP continues to mount with the powerful Congress of South Africa Trade Unions warning recently that it intended to initiate mass action against the introduction of the e-tolling in February 2012.