South Africa’s E-toll System and the African Working Class Motorists: The Re-emergence of the Socio-Economic Exclusions of the Apartheid Urban Settlements

Tlou Ramoroka


This paper theoretically studies the effects of South Africa’s e-toll system on the African working class mostly located in “urban” human settlements that are in the peripheries of cities in Gauteng Province. The e-toll system is a cost recovery strategy by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) to repay the loan that was taken to improve the roads (mostly freeways) for the 2010 Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) World Cup. In terms of transport infrastructure development, the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 maintains that “the investments in the transport sector must bridge geographic distances affordability, foster reliable and safely so that all South Africans can access previously inaccessible economic opportunities, social spaces and services”. However, South Africa’s e-toll system undermines the aspirations of the NDP 2030 of building and promoting accessible towns and cities 20 years into the democratic dispensation. Apparently, the e-toll system mostly affects the African working class motorists who are residing at the peripheries of the urban areas commonly in townships. These motorists are either faced with the daily charges of the e-tolls or have to use alternative congested and long routes in an attempt to access economic opportunities, social spaces and services in urban areas as compared to some wealthy fellow citizens who are housed in close proximity to the cities’ centres. The Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) and other working class organizations held numerous protests before the launching of the e-toll system to demonstrate their concerns and lack of support towards the implementation and activation of the system. However, government ignored the concerns and aspirations put forward by mostly the African working class motorists and continued with the system as planned. Thus, the paper concludes that the e-toll system contributes to the re-emergence of the apartheid urban settlements by limiting the African working class motorists’ accessibility to economic opportunities, social spaces and services that are available in urban areas.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n15p49

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This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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