To change an established public view is extremely difficult,
even when there is overwhelming evidence that the whole perception is wrong.
It is obvious to anybody who does not have an agenda or just follows the herd that
the improvements to the inner Gauteng highways are massively beneficial to road users.
Some of these benefits include improved safety and comfort on the roads, the knowledge that there is constant surveillance and assistance in case of any problems,
less time and money spent getting from point to point and less time of the roads translating into more family time.
The network upgrades have also led to property developments, which have been a catalyst for economic growth,
job creation and integrating people situated in the outskirts into urban spaces.
Yet there is a created perception that road users overwhelmingly do not want to pay the e-tolls, which go to the funding of these benefits.
This was largely debunked in a comprehensive survey published recently.
It supports our view that resistance against e-tolling is driven by special interest groups supported by political activists.
The fact is that there is an underlying acceptance among commuters that the users of road infrastructure should pay for its construction and upgrading.
The Quality of Life Survey conducted by the Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO) canvassed the opinions of 30 000 respondents across the province.
The survey takes place every two years and, for the second time, included a question about perceptions towards e-tolling.
The question put to respondents was whether they agree with the statement: “I will never pay for e-tolls.”
A key finding was that road users who are satisfied with the quality of the roads are more likely to pay.
According to the study, “34 percent of those who are satisfied with roads agree with the statement … and 42 percent disagree, indicating a willingness to pay.”
The survey found that fewer respondents (14 percent) who travel on the Gauteng freeway network have changed their routes because of e-tolls than had anticipated
to do so in 2013 (19 percent) before the gantries were turned on.
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) does not claim that the majority of people are enthusiastic about e-tolling.
However, the survey does show that it is not an overriding and pervasive issue among the majority of Gautengers,
especially in lower-middle class and poorer communities.
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