When Blade Nzimande and his comrades in the SA Communist Party and Cosatu were out in the cold in the Zuma years, they sang from the same hymn sheet of deeply principled opposition to the idea and execution of e-tolls.
Now that he is minister of transport, Nzimande’s tune has changed.
His new lyrics are to the effect that we need e-tolls to help pay off the supposed R67 billion in debt they have racked up for the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral). The problem is that his figures seem, at the very least, to be questionable.
The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project was originally budgeted to cost R12 billion, although it eventually ran out at about R20 billion, thanks to some of the most expensive roads (cost per kilometre) constructed in the world. At most, say experts, that figure will have increased to R40 billion through interest on loans.
So, where does the other R27 billion come from, minister? Are you now suggesting that e-tolls be used to pay off Sanral’s entire debt … something that is not only illegal but goes against your government’s much-touted “user pays” policy?
You should face facts, sir. E-tolls have failed. People won’t pay them.
Think of something else.