Gauteng Premier David Makhura says President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured him that the issue of e-tolls is receiving his urgent attention.

The e-tolling system is one of the thorny issues Makhura has been grappling with throughout his five-year term.

Makhura wrote to Ramaphosa after he become President in 2018, for a possible solution as it’s national government that has authority on the matter.

Makhura delivered his State of the Province Address for this term in Alberton on Gauteng’s East Rand.

Urban tolling is unsustainable because it increases the cost of living. Government teams are hard at work to find a solution to e-tolls.

Makhura gave Gauteng residents an update on e-tolls, but opposition political parties were not convinced.

DA Gauteng Premier Candidate Solly Msimanga says that they know that the e-toll contract has been extended.

“He now wants the people of Gauteng to believe that the President is actually looking into the matter while we know that as a matter of fact, the contract has already been extended up to the end of 2019, with an option to renew up to 2021. So the e-tolls are not going anywhere under the ANC government.”

The EFF’s Mandisa Mashego says they’re not shocked Makhura didn’t say anything decisive on e-tolls.

“There’s nothing absolutely urgent they’re going to do to deal with e-tolling. Cyril Ramaphosa needs to focus on the crisis at Eskom. He needs to focus on the Bosasa damages to his cabinet. He needs to focus on much more bigger things. He needs to focus on dropping VAT back to 14%. He needs to focus on stopping the petrol price increases.”

Apart from the e-tolls, the Life Esidimeni tragedy is another dent on Makhura’s term as Premier. A few weeks ago, new claimants staged protests outside Makhura’s office and even went to the national ANC Headquarters at Luthuli House in the Johannesburg CBD, demanding settlement.

Makhura says he’s been working with the Office of the Master of the High Court to ensure that they pay the rightful person in each family.

“This is what caused delays, which caused consternation among the families who have not yet been paid, which is the second category of families. I am happy though to report to this house that an amicable solution has been found between the provincial government and the master’s office together with the affected families on how these remaining claims can be settled speedily.”

The Premier says, despite delivering 1.2 million houses since 1996, the backlog still stands at just over one million. He blames this on rapid urbanisation and the high rate of in-migration. The province has since announced its Rapid Land Release Program, where government will give serviced-stands to those who can afford to build houses for themselves. Makhura, however admitted his government’s failure on turning hostels into family units.

The IFP’s Bonginkosi Dlamini says that they are disappointed in the Premier’s address.

“We’re really disappointed that the premier didn’t really go to the state of the province address. He was really electioneering because we are in the silly period and we’re also disappointed that he has admitted publicly that they’ve done absolutely nothing for your hostels and informal settlements.”

Makhura says his province came first in 2018’s matric results due to massive investments that have been made on education, especially in township schools. Makhura says education is a number one priority in the province, hence the modernisation of township schools through the deployment of ICT infrastructure.

The Premier says over the past five years, they’ve provided 1.2 million girls learners with dignity packs, 1.1 million learners with meals and half a million learners with school uniforms.

“The roll-out of the schools of specialisation and the re-opening of technical schools is part of preparing our children for the digital revolution, the fourth industrial revolution; and these contribute to the development of artisans and technicians, who are in very high demand in our economy today, particularly if we want to manufacture and create.”

The State of the Province will be debated in the Gauteng Legislature on Thursday.