ANC outrage at toll roads

NC outrage at toll roads 2 June 2010 By Arthi Sanpath and Bheki Mbanjwa Opposition to toll roads in the Durban area is building to tsunami proportions as the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal urged motorists to avoid the new King Shaka International Airport toll. It also said it was flabbergasted at the tolling decisions, including the proposed booths on the N2 just south of Durban. In its most damning criticism yet of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), ANC provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, said people should use the alternative route (R102) to and from the airport. The party's provincial executive committee this week also said the idea of erecting a toll road near Amanzimtoti was ill-conceived, one that would impact negatively on commuters. It criticised Sanral for not consulting stakeholders such as the eThekwini Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal government. "The ANC is flabbergasted by Sanral's approach of constructing tollgates without even consulting the people who are affected by such tollgates. The ANC in KZN will continue to engage the national Minister of Transport, S'bu Ndebele, with a view to stopping the construction of the proposed tollgate," Zikalala said.

On the latest booths, charging motorists leaving the new airport, the ANC said: "We remain steadfast that this tollgate was unnecessary. The King Shaka Airport has become the only airport in our country, if not the world, where people pay at a tollgate even before joining the main road." Logan Maistry, spokesman for Ndebele, said the department was committed to ensuring full participation and consultation from all sectors, and then referred other queries to Sanral. Sanral CEO Nazir Alli this morning said he could not respond to the criticism because he had not seen the ANC statement. The controversial N2 Wild Coast Highway, from the Gonubie Interchange, near East London, to Isipingo where another plaza may be built, was recently given the green light by the Department of Environmental Affairs, and objectors lodged their appeals last month. Residents may wait up to two months to hear if the department upholds its decision. Last month, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry lodged a challenge against the N2 Wild Coast toll road on behalf of more than 3 500 local companies. Chamber president, Clive Manci, said the appeal was formulated after previous efforts to halt the plan "fell on deaf ears". "We foresee a huge negative economic impact on businesses that will be directly affected by tolling this section of the N2," Manci said. Ted Holden, of the South Coast anti-toll road forum, said they were adopting a "wait and see" approach. He said that should the community not get the answer it was hoping for, the matter would end up in court. In 2008, eThekwini officials conducted a detailed analysis of the effects of the toll. The impacts included increased traffic congestion, accidents, pollution and noise, which would decrease property values and reduce residents' quality of life. An updated report, using data from the municipality's recent household travel survey, indicated that: # The area south of the proposed Isipingo Toll plaza has a population of about 350 000 households that would be affected by the road. # Total work trips in the morning peak at 57 000. # Of these trips almost 70 percent are by public transport and 30 percent private. eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba said: "We are concerned about such developments, especially when they will affect the poorest of the poor. For those people who support their families with the little they earn, to now have the additional toll charges, it is not right." He questioned how many tolls KZN was meant to have and also questioned how all the toll fees accrued by Sanral were used. Councillor Tex Collins, of the DA, said because it was obvious the toll would not be good for residents and the province, the matter had transcended political boundaries. Patrick Pillay, executive committee MF representative, said the toll had always been opposed, because it would create undue hardships on business and motorists. Thembi Nzuza, executive committee IFP representative, said it was a positive move that all parties agreed on this and reiterated a call for the toll proposal to be stopped.


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