Gauteng e-tolls necessary
Port Elizabeth – President Jacob Zuma says the implementation of the e-tolling system on Gauteng’s main freeways is necessary for the economic development of South Africa.
“We know that our people are affected by serious poverty and unemployment and the e-tolls are an additional financial burden but we plead for your understanding because at the end of the day, we need to develop the infrastructure of Gauteng,” Zuma said on Friday morning.
He was speaking at the New Age Business Briefing attended by the Eastern Cape’s business leaders and top government officials in Port Elizabeth.
Trade union federation Cosatu, various organisations as well as Gauteng motorists have threatened to boycott the implementation of the system. Thousands of Cosatu supporters last week took to the streets to express their concerns at the effects of the extra financial burden on especially the poor.
On Friday, Zuma said the reasoning behind the project was that Gauteng had developed beyond its infrastructure capacity, with roads in general unable to keep up with traffic demands. Gauteng’s economy could not afford any impediment to traffic as that would stall economic growth not only for the province but for the country.
He pointed out that Johannesburg was an industrial city crucial to the development of South Africa.
“We are developing the infrastructure so that we can create jobs; you’ve got to understand that in economic development you have to take decisions. What we are saying is that we must open up so that the infrastructure is user-friendly to business and the people.”
He said that South Africa’s economy had to grow, and if it had to grow at the speed needed, the country must follow what other developed countries have done.
Zuma suggested that there would be no roll out of the system to other provinces in the near future, but if other cities developed to an extent that e-tolls were necessary, government would deal with the issue when it arose.
He dismissed claims that government was in conflict with its social partners over the implementation of e-tolls. South Africa was a democratic country and people had a right to raise different views and this did not mean there was a conflict.
On the issue of labour brokers, Zuma reiterated that government was serious about implementing laws that would protect workers from exploitation.
The President said discussions were taking place at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to tackle challenges that may still be associated with some labour brokers.
“We have said [labour brokers] must be regulated and there must be fairness. Very soon we will hear the kinds of things that we think should happen. A lot of work has been done by the Minister of Labour and the country will know what the discussion had been on this matter.”
Government will continue to consult its social partners in a bid to conclude the matter as speedily as possible, he said. – BuaNews