The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng says government must provide clarity on e-tolls. The party says it will turn off toll gantries across provinces if it wins in next week’s local government elections.
In March, South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) announced it was planning to implement a new legal framework, to ensure motorists pay their e-toll bills.
This would mean motorists travelling on Gauteng freeways who fail to pay may receive hefty fines or face the possibility of their vehicle license disk renewals being blocked. There is still no word from government on whether it will be getting rid of the controversial tolling system.
Commissioned in 2011, e-tolls are a bugbear for government as most motorists opt not to pay. In 2019, the transport and finance ministers were tasked by President Cyril Ramaphosa to find a solution to the deadlock.
A decision was expected in the same year.
Two years later, there seems to be no end in sight to the controversial system.
DA leader in Gauteng, Solly Msimanga says government urgently needs to decide on the matter.
“Fikile Mbalula needs to come and make a statement and tell us where we stand. We need to make sure that the president and his cabinet make a decisive announcement on the issue of e-tolls here in Gauteng. If they are not going to do that, the municipalities need to find a way to make sure they are held to account and if it means that when we get to be elected in different municipalities, our municipalities, our mayors will have to take action, they will take action.”
Last year, the Gauteng government called for the scrapping of the system:
The DA proposed the debt be paid through a fuel levy and the motor vehicle license income. Sanral has so far written off R17.3 billion of e-toll debt since the scheme’s inception in 2013.
The party’s Shadow Transport MEC Fred Nel says the silence on the future of e-tolls is worrying.
“Our concern is the ball is being kicked all the time. Just before the 2011 elections, the ANC decided to postpone the implementation of e-tolls. After the 2011 elections, it was implemented, just before the 2014 elections they came with promises again. And again at the 2016 elections, the ANC finally took a decision in Gauteng that they oppose the systems, and ahead of the 2019 elections. So, every time the elections come, they make promises, and the system remains after elections.”
The DA’s Joburg Mayoral Candidate, Dr. Mpho Phalatse claims Sanral owes Gauteng municipalities in the province millions for keeping the e-toll gantries alive.
“In order to render services, we need to collect revenue. We’ve got an infrastructure backlog. It was estimated between 2016 and 2019 to be around R200 billion and we didn’t have sufficient income to take care of that backlog and that is part of the reason we are not collecting all that we are supposed to be collecting.”