E-toll hearings confirm public anger
The notification of these hearings has been typically dismal and as such, only around 60 people arrived at this first of three sessions. A number of those present only knew about the hearing after seeing this on the OUTA's website and Facebook page.
Nonetheless, the message was loud and clear from the attendees who expressed absolute rejection and frustration with SANRAL and the Government’s plan to toll Gauteng’s freeways. The questions and concerns raised were both intelligent, poignant and very direct. In many respects it was a case of this being the first real opportunity for the public to meet the e-toll authorities and express their disgust, anger and outright objection, something we believe would have happened during the 2007 farcical engagement process (when SANRAL only received 28 responses), had the public known then what they know now.
“We were encouraged to witness the interaction we saw tonight” says Wayne Duvenage from the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA), “as it highlights the sentiment and negative reaction to e-tolls which has been expressed by the public since the realisation of this irrational plan.” Public sentiment has been clearly negative toward e-tolls throughout social media space and on polls conducted by TV and other media over the past year. Clearly we see a growing chorus and call to simply not participate in e-tolls, to “tag-down” so to speak and as we have said for months now, this will ultimately become SANRAL’s biggest hurdle yet – a significant volume of public absenteeism.
Over the past two weeks, we have witnessed over 2500 written submissions by e-mail, via the OUTA website, to the Government’s call for public feedback on the gazetted tariff and exemption notices. OUTA encourages the public to participate and engage when and where it can, thereby sending a clear message to the authorities of their rejection of this inefficient plan and waste of taxpayer’s money. The people’s judicial review in the high court, driven by OUTA, will be heard on 26 to 28 November in the North Gauteng High Court.