The end of e-tolls in Gauteng was not likely in the near future, according to the Democratic Alliance (DA), despite an expected announcement by government on the issue on Saturday.
Speaking on a reply by Gauteng Premier David Makhura this week, DA MPL Solly Msimanga concluded that the Gauteng ANC had no clear timeline on whether e-tolls would be scrapped.
Makhura also contended that there was no need to declare an intergovernmental dispute. This despite the committee tasked with handling the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) having missed their “end of August” deadline to make a pronouncement.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s office said it would address this and other related matters this Saturday. Msimanga said the DA was hoping this address would include the scrapping of e-tolls once and for all.
Meanwhile, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral)’s recently released financials showed the scrapping of this tolling system was long overdue.
“E-tolls had been in place for five years and four months until March 2019 and during this period, Sanral had invoiced the public for just over R27 billion for the e-tolls,” said Outa’s Wayne Duvenhage.
“However the massive public resistance forced Sanral to remove R17.3 billion of the revenue charged as ‘unrecognised’, for fear of having to write off massive amounts as uncollectible revenue.
“This meant that Sanral only reflected their e-toll revenue as being R9,8 billion for the full five year and four months of e-tolling to March 2019. Yet in reality, Sanral was only able to collect R4.5 billion, well short of their desired target of around R16 billion to date, had their e-toll scheme gone according to plan.”
Sanral announced it received 63% less revenue in e-toll collections in the most recent financial year compared to the year before.
This amounted to just R687 million in e-toll fees, compared to the R1.8 billion it made in e-toll revenue in the last financial year.
“The e-tolls must be scrapped and instead the fuel levy should be used to fund e-tolls,” said Msimanga, echoing the long-standing sentiments of Outa.
“Had this been done initially this would have been able to pay off the R20 billion cost of the road improvements. But instead the fuel levy is being used to bail out state-owned enterprises.”
Msimanga added there was a discrepancy between the actual debt incurred by motorists to the agency and what Sanral attributed as Gauteng’s part of their total debt.