Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


‘It’s not really over’ – Lack of clarity on closure of e-tolls raises concerns

'It seems they have just forgotten about it and it’s a problem because they made a commitment that they were going to end this.'


Procrastination over the closure of e-tolls has raised concerns, with opposition parties and civil society organisations claiming “it’s not really over for e-tolls”.

Following the announcement of the planned scrapping of e-tolls, government missed its deadlines, with Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi saying the province and national government needed to iron out a few issues.

However, delivering his “real state of the province address”, Democratic Alliance Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga said “Gauteng residents should not jump for joy yet”, because e-tolls are not going anywhere as the premier made a premature announcement without a plan of action.

ALSO READ: E-tolls refunds: More hot air or actual relief for those who paid?

“There are a number of things that are worrying for us. Since the money has been paid, since the inception of e-tolls, the debt hasn’t reduced. That’s number one,” he added.

Lack of clarity on e-tolls

Msimanga said the lack of clarity on e-tolls after an announcement was made in 2022 that the project would be scrapped, and the silence around how the province would pay for the e-toll debt, meant it was likely to be shouldered by residents.

“The provincial government said it would pay 30% of the debt plus maintenance going forward, and we’re talking a couple of billions that we will have to pay, but where is that money coming from?” he asked.

“Because there’s no new money in Gauteng. The money that they have is the budget that they have. So they’re not going get an additional R5 billion somewhere else.

ALSO READ: Gauteng e-tolls to be switched off early 2023 – Lesufi

“So it means that they will have to then stop other projects that are already supposed to be implemented, or they will stop the building of houses or of other infrastructure, clinics or hospitals or whatever the case may be, in order to be able to then fund this.”

When asked at what stage the process of scrapping e-tolls was and if the office of the premier had an administrative plan, Lesufi’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga said: “The cost of the debt can best be answered by the South African National Roads Agency Limited as the administrator of e-tolls.

“There is a discussion among political leaders led by the premier and the ministers of finance and transport to deal with the modalities of e-tolls.

“There are different revenue streams that are being discussed,” he added.

‘Huge concern’

Civil action group Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) agreed the delay and postponements were a huge concern because “it seems they have just forgotten about it and it’s a problem because they made a commitment that they were going to end this.

“Now, suddenly, nothing is happening. It’s very confusing, mainly to businesses and a few motorists who have paid.

ALSO READ: Gauteng to contribute R12.9 billion towards the decommissioning of e-tolls

“They’ve been told they’ll get refunds and the next thing the whole thing is in the air.

“The procrastination means something and it’s probably because they are unable to implement the plan,” Outa said.

– reitumetsem@citizen.co.za