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By Roy Cokayne

Moneyweb: Freelance journalist

Government delaying the scrapping of Gauteng e-tolls – Lesufi

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi however maintains ‘e-tolls in the province are history’.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi claims national government is delaying him “in signing off that e-tolls are history”.

“I want to repeat it here, e-tolls in Gauteng are history. We are finalising the remaining tasks and we will be in a position to share them with you,” he told an SA Auto Week conference on Thursday.

Lesufi told Moneyweb earlier this month that National Treasury, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) and the Gauteng Provincial Government are at the “tail end” of the process to scrap e-tolls but backtracked on reported comments he previously made about refunding motorists who had diligently paid their e-toll accounts.

Gauteng e-tolls: Sanral’s R43bn debt

Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) CEO Wayne Duvenage said Lesufi made it very clear in his statement in November 2022 that the provincial government would refund those who had paid R6.8 billion in e-tolls.

The negotiations over the scrapping of the GFIP e-tolls follows Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana stating in his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) speech in October 2022 that to resolve the funding impasse over the GFIP e-toll scheme, the Gauteng government had agreed to contribute 30% to settling Sanral’s GFIP debt and interest obligations, while national government covers 70%.

The total amount to be paid by the provincial government is R12.9 billion – 30% of Sanral’s R43 billion – using different revenue streams in the form of a hybrid model.

Lesufi said the Gauteng government initially had five points of difference with National Treasury before it could sign off on ending e-tolls and only one remains.

ALSO READ: Construction firms challenge Sanral’s award of N2 tender

Gauteng vehicle registration ‘overhaul’

Lesufi on Thursday also provided details of a plan to tackle crime in Gauteng through technology and indicated that a decision had been taken to “overhaul the entire car registration regime in our province”.

“We are putting on new registration number plates from 1 November,” he said.

“But we want to go beyond that and challenge the [automotive] sector to come with innovative ways to ensure that our cars aren’t hijacked and our cars can go through the proper registration processes.”

Stolen, hijacked vehicles used to commit other crimes

Lesufi appealed for the assistance of the automotive industry in tackling Gauteng’s high crime rate.

“In 98% of all violent crimes in our province, there is one tool that is commonly utilised – and that tool is the motor vehicle.

“The car that is used to either to rob, attack or to assassinate people, it’s either stolen or hijacked.

“The car that is used to do wrong things in our streets has a wrong registration number or they have been tampering with the VIN [vehicle identification] number or all other registrations.

“Our car registration regime is highly compromised and needs to be overhauled and be changed,” he added.

“We can’t have people having a German system with keyless cars. We can’t have people getting cars illegally in our province and we can’t also have so many cars that are going through the borders of our country easily.

“We have to collectively sit down, [and] realise our strategies and programmes to ensure that this particular era comes to an end.

“If we can get right in Gauteng, we’ll get it right across our country,” he said.

“So we are challenging you as a sector. Let’s review things that we can review together and ensure that we stop this madness and allow Gauteng to be a safer province again.”

Lesufi said that if the Gauteng government cannot fight crime, corruption and lawlessness in the province, it must forget about its position as the economic hub of the country.

ALSO READ: Lesufi backtracks on e-tolls refund plans

Panic buttons for all

He said the provincial government increased the budget of the Department of Community Safety from R850 million to R2.7 billion but the intention is to make it “an R8 billion department in the next three years”.

Lesufi said this is a clear sign that the provincial government is ready to fight crime in the province.

He added that the provincial government had managed to ensure that CCTV security cameras have been installed in strategic areas of the province and also taken a decision that all of the province’s citizens must have and be connected to an e-panic button.

This is a tool designed to provide immediate assistance in times of emergency.

It is a mobile app that can be installed on any smartphone or tablet and allows users to quickly and discreetly call for help with just a single tap of a button.

Gauteng power plan

Lesufi further indicated that the provincial government has invested in resources to address load shedding in Gauteng and is “quite convinced” it is on course to minimise the impact of load shedding and shortages and limitations on energy in the province by January 2024.

He said the provincial government has just concluded a mandate that is outside provincial government mandate of appointing Johannesburg City Power as an implementing agency to shield the province against load shedding.

In addition, he said a war room, joined by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, City Power and all local authorities in the province, has been established to ensure that Gauteng does not have energy challenges moving forward.

“We are quite excited as a provincial government that we have put aside almost R1.5 billion as a seed amount to rehabilitate all energy generation stations that were obsolete or abandoned and to also to rehabilitate those energy centres that have been vandalised or attacked during load shedding,” he said.

Water plan

Lesufi said the provincial government is also addressing the water shortage issues in the province.

“We have had discussions with the Minister of Water and Sanitation and are now convinced that all the challenges that are related to water in our province are about to be resolved,” he said.

“We asked the minister to ensure that water must not be another Eskom.”

This article is republished from Moneyweb under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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