Posted by: DBS on Jul 03, 2011
I have lived in Johannesburg for almost 41 years. I know my way around town without using a digital aid. I know the general location of the suburbs and the best routes to follow to get to them. I can even direct you y street names, robots and landmarks to your destination.
I am though going to have to get a digital driving assistant such as a Tom Tom and get it soon maybe even before the end of July.
Are you moving to Cape Town, Durban or Bloemfontein I hear you ask?
No I am going to be staying here but other road users are going to change my habits and make me find a new way to Break Free.
Let me explain.
Over three years ago we started with the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Plan which is the physical implementation of what had gone on tender many months before. We were promised a Soccer World Cup legacy that would support the burgeoning metropolis for years to come. It would be a shining mecca of road transportation built around a model that would ensure kilometres of uninterrupted traffic flow at all times of the day. And a mere snip at the suggested tariff of about 10c a km.
As the work progressed the hints that the price was going up appeared regularly in the press but we continued to smile, do nothing and promise ourselves that this minor irritation of yet another lane closure for work to take place would be worth it in the end.
February saw the release of the tarrif structure and it was 68c a km without an e-tag and 49c with one. Oh shock horror! The talk radio shows were full of angry Gautengers claiming that tolling the roads was not fair in the first place and writing pitiful missives of complaint to the community newspapers. The Taxi drivers threatened massive disruptions – why I don’t know as they generally don’t use the N roads for 95% of their daily commutes.
As it was an election year the Gauteng Provinvcial legislature said they would establish a commission to investigate. Whispers of “lets get the masses quiet” must have echoed round Luthuli House.
To my mind once the decision to toll was made was almost too late to object. If you didn’t want tolls you should have chirped during the planning phase not now.
The resistance to paying the extra substantial cost is big maybe bigger than any of us realise at the moment. One of the actions that I know will happen is people boycotting the freeways and taking to the suburbs again to cross the city rather than go round it. That is my forte and if my current routes are going to be blocked by previous N road travellers fumbling with map books and hoping that their Garmin or Tom Tom does know which way to go, then I am going to need to find some new routes.
Finding the new routes is where a Tom Tom would come in useful especially if it had the capability to interface to reports of traffic congestion and re-calculate automatically.
New routes through the suburbs is one option for me. The other is that with the freeways now empty I take to them and drive at maximum fuel economy with no hold ups. It may reduce my travel time between appontments, it is going to cost me more but then time is money they say and this is definately true for salespeople like me.
One thing is certain though the Gauteng motoring population is not happy and maybe a Tom Tom with a soothing gentle voice is what we will all need.