Protesters walk out on e-toll hearing

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By Angelique Serrao

Thousands of people across Gauteng have been sending the Department of Transport their submissions on why e-tolling should not go ahead.

This comes as the government held an information session at a hotel in Kempton Park yesterday into the published e-toll tariffs.

Talk Radio 702 reported last night that several people walked out in protest at the information session, saying they were angry that their voices would not count.

The first round of hearings related to tariffs and exemptions and not about the future of e-tolling itself.

The hearing is one of three being held in Gauteng and is part of a month-long process that delayed the rollout of the project.

The hearings were attended by fewer than 100 people.

TEMPERS BOIL OVER

It was meant to be a peaceful affair, but when people were not allowed to voice objections to the e-tolls, tempers boiled over.

Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance chairman Wayne Duvenage told The Star that many people had copied the organisation the messages they are sending the government.

The alliance had received 2500 submissions from people angry about e-tolling. None had been in favour of the system.

Duvenage said those who had copied the organisation their submission were a minority. Many people had sent their comments without copying the alliance.

“In 2007, the department received 26 comments. Now there are thousands. It just shows how the public participation process was not followed properly,” Duvenage added.

He said yesterday’s session had not been advertised.

His organisation had requested people to go and make submissions, Duvenage said.

NO CONSIDERATION FOR ELDERLY

Among the highlights of the submissions to the departments that the anti-tolling alliance had received was one from a pensioner and his wife, asking that the elderly be exempted from e-tolling.

He said it appeared that no consideration seems to have been given to the plight of the elderly.

The old man says in his submission that he and his wife lived and worked in Joburg nearly all their lives.

“Having retired some 10 and 14 years ago, we are of course on fixed income, while inflation reduces our buying power inexorably,” he writes.

The couple live in Modderfontein and have to use the e-toll route to travel north, west and south.

They have to travel on the e-toll highway to go and visit their children in the northern suburbs, and the discounted times do not allow them a window to go for lunch or supper, the pensioner says.

“Our personal circumstances are indicative of the sort of challenges faced by old folk.

“E-tolls ask us to spend money upfront that we have not got for the use of a public facility which during our entire working lives we have paid for, out of income that is now fixed and that is eaten away by inflation all the time,” the man says. -The Star

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