Been a hell of a week, what with having to go to the office every morning by 8 am for a meeting, and be there for a meeting at 4.30 - 5.30.... But I've done it. I can tell you that because of these hours, I find myself traveling in the worst of peak hour traffic, and my petrol bill doubled. Instead of 40 minutes on the road, I now take up to 2 hours (each way), and get less than 5 km/lt! That's what idling in the traffic does to your consumption!
So, what's been going on? Well, the darkie who looks after finances for the current regime had his budget speech this week. The new spend is now ZAR Trillion!!! Not sure what all the actual numbers are, don't care to much anyway. If anyone wants to know, Google it (LIU).
The part that interested me was that they slipped in a comment on the tolling of the highway around JHB. This has been a seriously contested issue for some time, but the regime has decided we will pay to use this road. The problems with this are many.
Lets go back a bit - when the previous government was in power, a decision was taken to add a tax to the price of petrol for the specific use of roads maintenance. For many years this was used for it's intended purpose, and it worked well. Also, a tax was added to replace what was then known as 3rd part insurance, and a Road Accident Fund was initiated. This also worked well. Each year with budget time, this tax was raised a few cents, so the income kept up to date with the rising costs associated to these functions. Enter the new regime, them who thought that government had access to a bottomless pit of funds (and who probably still believe, like Mugabe,that if you need more money you just print it) and all taxes /income was put into a single bucket. From there allocations are made for the various departments in civil services. No separation of taxes. Suddenly we find the RAF is bankrupt. No money coming in from the state, and payouts which try to match the ridiculous payouts that the USA pays out to aggrieved persons.
Roads deteriorate - oh, I forgot to mention, the notion of ongoing maintenance is a completely foreign concept to the regime. Across the board. Take a look at municipal sewerage plants. take a look at Eskom power-line pylons. These used to be repainted on a regular basis (every 5 - 6 years). Now, they are rusting away, and soon the power generator and distributor is going to be asking for another increase in the power cost to replace pylons that are collapsing. Their argument will be "We inherited this from the Apartheid regime.....".
I digress. About 2 - 3 years ago, there was a big announcement that the Gautrain (LIU) was going to be built. The motivation was to take some of the pressure of the traffic. Made good sense. High speed train from PTA to JHB, as well as the international airport. I could see a benefit for many people (me excluded).
At the same time, there was a major upgrade to the highways around JHB and PTA. Extra lane/s added, new improved on and off ramps. All to make the traffic flow easier / faster / safer. Sounds good.
Next thing we know, they announce that the new roads (which were not new but revamped) would be tolled. Some fancy overhead gantries have been built all along the highway which will photograph the number plates of vehicles, and the owners thereof would receive a bill. Billing would be based on number of kilometers (per km) traveled on the roadway. No discussions before the fact. Oh, and taxi's (the bane of our lives, the biggest killers of passengers, the major cause of accidents, the non-tax paying business) would be exempt!!! That was a given, as the regime knows that the taxi industry would bring the country to it's knees with strike action, road blocks, go slows, etc. Road users have been asked to register, and a gadget would be given to them to fit into the car. This would then deduct the cost of the trip from their accounts automatically. Gadget owners would pay less than unregistered drivers. The budget speech basically said that tolling would go ahead, and that the fee per km would be subsidized by the state, so reduced to 30c per km. This is for normal cars, oh, and bikes by the way!!!! And, (and this burns my arse no end) the tolling will be administered by a company from Australia! Which means profits from the tolling will go out of country! WTF!!!!
So whats the link to the Gautrain? Well, this is interesting, and something I only recently read in a newspaper (fine print - back section - somewhere between prostitution / sex and jobs) - when the consortium that built and own and run the Gautrain were in negotiations with the regime, it was agreed that a minimum number of passengers would use the service on a daily basis. This would then in effect guarantee the service provider a specific income (as a minimum). If this number was not achieved, the state WOULD MAKE UP THE LOSS IN REVENUE FOR THAT PERIOD, ONGOING!!!!! Where the fuck have you ever heard of a company going into a venture, and getting financial support from the state of they don't achieve the revenues they think they should be making! When the whole toll saga on th highways was being discussed in the news, the Gautrain owners said that if the tolling did not take place, more people would make use of the now improved roadway, less would use the Gautrain, and so the state would have to pay in the difference!!!! So, as tax paying road users, we are fucked if we do, and fucked if we don't!
I'm not too sure how many people have registered for the tokens, but I know a damn lot are not going to. We want to make it as difficult as possible for the service providers to collect the tolls. They will have to amortize all my trips (based on photos) and bill me monthly. This for in excess of 120000 users per day. have a nice day morons!!!!! We may have to pay a bit more per km, but that's the price of resistance!
So here's my idea. Take a container, convert it into a mobile public toilet facility. Put it down in a squatter camp. This is a basic necessity in every squatter camp in South Africa.Lets say - 3000 residents. Then I will charge each user to make use of the toilets. I can employ a cleaner / supervisor. (Job creation) However, I expect everyone of the residents to use my toilet at least once a day. If they don't, I expect the state to make up the difference in revenue! Think it will work?
Oh, maybe not - I'm not black / previously disadvantaged / connect to a current regime post holder / corrupt / ........