E-tolls are a thing of the past says Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi

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Gauteng’s new Premier Panyaza Lesufi has assured residents of the province that e-tolls are a thing of the past and he has assembled a team to come-up with a solution. This includes what happens to those who have not paid their e-tolls and those who have been paying.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced during his recent Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement that treasury would take over 70% of the e-tolls debt, and let the provincial government decide on how to settle the remaining 30%.

Lesufi has addressed the media in Johannesburg and says the people of Gauteng will be kept updated about the final provincial decision on e-tolls.

“People of Gauteng want to know how we will settle this 30%. What we know is that whatever model that we will introduce, and negotiate, and consult the people of Gauteng, tolling is not one of them. We are going to consult people of Gauteng. We want to reject the notion that has been flying all over that the commitment we’ve made to pay this 30% means health and education will suffer,” explain Lesufi.

Lesufi says he will only be able to quantify the 30% that the Gauteng provincial government has to pay towards the e-toll debt after a consultation meeting with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport. Lesufi says the national government needs to provide clarity on whether the debt obligation will include interest payments.  He says the maintenance costs are also among the outstanding matters to be discussed. Lesufi emphasised that the e-toll debt will not affect the province’s health and education budget in any way.

“Our proposals was mainly and only on the 30%, but the speech of the minister included maintenance. We are not objecting or rejecting, we just need clarity because these are national roads. And if they’re national roads and you expect us to maintain them there must be due process and therefore, we believe the meeting will clarify those aspects.  Thirdly, there are people that have been paying etolls and they expect clarity from us. Fourthly, which is very important, what becomes the process of deregulating etoll or finally legally removing e-tolls.”

Lesufi says that the task team picked to come up with the payment method to settle the 30% part of the e-tolls that remained after treasury committed to taking over the bulk of the budget, will also give direction on how the gantries would be used going forward.

The province has been given until the end of December, to furnish details to the treasury on how the debt will be settled.

Lesufi said, during a media briefing earlier, that he wanted to provide certainty in his dealing with the settlement of e-tolls.

“How do we re-purpose the gantries and the entire infrastructure and either utilise it to assist us to deal with the challenges of crime and many other related matters? As Gauteng, we really believe that we have to deal with matters that will ensure there is certainty in everything that we do, and the issue of e-tolls created lots of uncertainty in our citizens.”

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