Gauteng government coughs up millions for e-tolls

An e-toll gantry photographed 16 September 2014 on the N1 highway near Randburg. Picture: Michel Bega

Gauteng government funds half of e-toll shortfalls.

Provincial government is to contribute a total of R123 million towards the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), of which the contentious e-tolling system is used to pay for.

In presenting her Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, Finance and e-government MEC Barbara Creecy said this would fund at least half of the shortfalls on the project, which had occurred through its reduced tariff rates for motorists.

“We are all aware that last year, Premier (David) Makhura took a decision to establish an advisory panel to assess the socioeconomic impact of the introduction of the e-tolls on the economy and people, and propose a best possible way forward on this matter.

“The matter has now reached conclusion, the new dispensation is being implemented,” said Creecy.

“We committed ourselves during the tabling of the main budget that we will appropriate our portion of contribution towards the GFIP during the adjustment budget.

“…Government will fund its fifty percent contribution and accordingly we appropriate R123 million for this purpose today.”

The SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) recently offered a 60 percent reduction for motorists, some who have accumulated hefty e-toll bills since the implementation on December 3, 2013.

But organisations opposed to the user-pays system labelled the move as a “farce”.

Gauteng’s contribution had been brokered by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during discussions on the system in May, Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said on Tuesday.

“This is an old story, as part of the agreement brokered by the Deputy President.”

When the lowering of tariffs was announced, Sanral had been part of the discussion, he added.

“When the numbers were crunched, and demonstrated the lowering was going to create a hole, the question had to be asked where it (the money) will come from.”

It was through discussions that Gauteng committed to coming on board, said Mona.

Sanral has campaigned the 60 percent discount through various advertisements, including radio and television.

Mona however said it was still too early to make a meaningful conclusion on whether motorists were taking advantage of it.

“It’s still early days. We are seeing a number of people coming forward to enquire… but we need longer than two weeks to make a meaningful conclusion.”

The e-toll report by the socioeconomic expert panel, recommended earlier this year that the system be reviewed

In receiving the report late last year, Makhura had said: “Now the ball is in our court…“We don’t want to make another mistake. There will also be important lessons we will draw from this.”




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