DA’S MSIMANGA LEADS CHARGE FOR SCRAPPING OF E-TOLLS
Premier calls opposition party march to his office ‘electioneering’
GAUTENG Premier David Makhura was yesterday unfazed by the DA’s protest for the scrapping of e-tolls, maintaining that he was in talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding the pressing matter ahead of next year’ elections.
Hundreds of DA supporters, including the party’s Gauteng premier-designate Solly Msimanga, marched to Makhura’s office in Johannesburg yesterday.
But the man himself was hard at work in his office with senior staff deliberating his future plans, including the scrapping of e-tolls.
“They are using the e-tolls for their elections campaign. I am engaged in discussions with President Cyril Ramaphosa to scrap the e-tolls. I made a persuasive call to him. He understands that these e-tolls are burdensome to the working class owning cars and the middle class,” Makhura said.
In an interview with Independent Media, Makhura was adamant that “e-tolls have no future in Gauteng”.
While he appeared optimistic about the scrapping of the e-tolls, Makhura did not want to speculate on the date, unlike Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who pronounced they’d be removed in the “next six months”.
“The people of Gauteng do not like e-tolls. I want the matter resolved. I want it resolved yesteryear,” Makhura said.
He said e-tolls were “overtaxing the working class” who were forced to use the tolled roads while travelling to various destinations of employment, including doing business in the Joburg CBD and Pretoria.
Adding more to their troubles, according to Makhura, was the constant increases in fuel prices and food inflation.
He, however, said his government and Ramaphosa would first discuss an alternative payment model for the debt incurred as a result of the construction of the tolls.
Makhura said he had made a “persuasive call” to Ramaphosa to scrap the e-tolls and was expecting the president to give a positive response in due course.
“It is for this reason that we have now referred this matter to the president for a final determination on alternative options of settling the debt. I am confident that a solution will be found. Once the debt is settled, we will be able to maintain our roads without the e-toll system,” Makhura said.
According to Makhura, there were other ways of building, maintaining and upgrading roads, saying that, “for instance, the Gauteng government has been able to upgrade and rehabilitate our provincial road network of more than 5 000km that have no e-tolls”.
“We can and will find alternative ways of expanding and maintaining our road network without e-tolls. E-tolls have no future in Gauteng,” Makhura said.
Makhura also revealed his plans to rename one of Gauteng’s national roads, the R59, after Helen Suzman, for many years a lone Progressive Party member of Parliament.
The R55 road is expected to be renamed after PAC founding student leader Philip Kgosana, while the R20 is due to be named after SA Students Organisation and Azapo leader Muntu Myeza.
The N12 is expected to be renamed after Rivonia Trial accused Ahmed Kathrada, while the Ben Schoeman Highway will be renamed after SACP stalwart Moses Kotane.
William Nicol Drive will soon become Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Drive – pending approvals of the National Geographic Names Council and Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.
GAUTENG DA MARCHERS on their way to Premier David Makhura’s office to demand the scrapping of e-tolls. | BHEKIKHAYA MABASO News Agency (ANA)