Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
2 Sep 2019
6:45 am

Government continues to delay a final solution on e-tolls

Sipho Mabena

The transport minister has put a number of options on the table, but Outa and even the ANC in Gauteng says only a complete scrapping would be acceptable.

Picture: Moneyweb

Gauteng motorists will never pay e-toll fees, regardless of the amount of discount, with the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) saying the decision whether to scrap the e-tolls lies with the people, and they have spoken.

Weekend reports suggested that among seven proposals forwarded to the task team established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to find a solution to the e-tolls impasse in the province was a 70% discount on the tariffs, or government footing the bill by means of a tax levy.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who heads the task team, had until the weekend to come up with the solution on the e-toll saga, but instead extended this process by another two weeks for submissions.

Outa head Wayne Duvenage said Mbalula’s process was looking for answers that it already had: that e-tolls will not work and have been scrapped in other parts of the world because of this.

He said reducing the tariff of each gantry from the current R3 to 10 cents would worsen the already disastrous bond repayments situation of the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) and he insisted people would still not pay.

“They are supposed to collect at least R300 million a month but they are getting R50 million a month. They are getting nothing to repay their bond; they are only getting enough for collection,” Duvenage said.

He said in 2015, the toll fees were reduced by 60% but people still did not pay, saying only 20% of the users paid the e-toll fees.

According to Duvenage, 83% of the country’s roads were financed through Treasury grants, saying Gauteng freeways made up 15% of this figure.

He repeated the often stated fact that the current roads were built through the 10-cent fuel levy and that, had this similar model been adopted for the financing of the refurbishment of Gauteng freeways, the bill would have been settled by now.

“We look forward to the announcement in two weeks, but we say government can only make one decision. Scrap e-tolls,” Duvenage said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng yesterday said it had reliably learnt that the other proposal for e-tolls was that the ANC in the province wanted to raise income tax to pay for e-tolls, something that has been denied by the ANC.

Jahno Engelbrecht, a DA member of the provincial legislature and the party’s spokesperson on roads and transport in the province, said this proposal was unacceptable and would place further strain on already overburdened residents struggling with the high cost of living.

He said in addition to this, residents would also be taxed further in order to pay for the proposed National Health Insurance fund that government wanted to implement.

“The DA has been against the implementation of e-tolls since its inception, as it is an unfair tax burden on our residents who are struggling to make ends meet.

“Furthermore, motorists are at risk of infringing the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offices Amendment Act for not paying their e-tolls.

“Truck drivers are at risk of losing their licence as they will be fined R500 and one demerit point for every gantry they pass without paying e-tolls,” Engelbrecht said.

He said it was clear that the ANC had no intention of getting rid of e-tolls and that residents in Gauteng would continue to pay for something they did not want.

Bones Modise, ANC spokesperson in Gauteng, dismissed the DA’s claims as rumour-mongering, saying the party’s stance on the e-tolls had not changed.

“We will continue advocating for the scrapping of the e-tolls.

“Our position will never change. We appreciate the process currently unfolding to find solutions for the e-tolls, but our stance will not change,” he said.

Modise added that because October was Transport Month, the ANC would roll out campaigns and activities against e-tolls.

– siphom@citizen.co.za

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