Scrapped or not, South Africans will pay for e-tolls, says Fikile Mbalula

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Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says Finance Minister Enoch Godogwana will make an announcement on the future of e-tolls during his Budget Speech in February.

“The announcement that will be made in the February budget will be a Cabinet decision by the minister of finance. So there’ll be delays with regard to this and delays are informed partly because the decision we’ve got to make has financial implications,” said Mbalula on Friday, while discussing the state of South Africa’s transport system.

Mbalula, however, said South Africans would still have to fork out, no matter the decision taken. He explained that e-tolls still needed to be paid for, even if the user-pay system was scrapped.

‘Bite the bullet’

South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma in September called on the government to “bite the bullet” and make a decision on e-tolls.

“There are no easy answers. All the options we have presented to government have very significant financial implications and I think we must just make a decision,” Macozoma said.

“Bite the bullet and do so. There is not going to be an answer that is not going to affect South Africans in the pocket, including cancellation.

“Cancellation in fact is the most expensive of the options that are on the table. So it’s a complex decision but it must be made. It’s not assisting that [Sanral doesn’t] have a decision,” he said.

ALSO READ: Government must ‘bite the bullet’ and make a decision on e-tolls, says Sanral CEO

In October, however, Mbalula insisted that the e-toll system could not be scrapped.

“The funding model that we have employed as a country for our roads is affected by our attitude towards e-tolls, but we are working on that and a e-toll solution will be found.

“We are a caring government but [we] have a country to run and an economy to sustain and we’ve got hard decisions to make regarding this matter,” he said.

Since 2012, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has been trying to overturn the e-tolls system.

“The laws around the e-toll policy do not work. Firstly, people are not paying, Sanral stopped working for over two years, which is a problem, and they cannot blacklist anyone as the National Credit Regulator and the Act barred them from blacklisting, so there is no bad credit rating and they cannot withhold anyone’s licence,” said Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage.

The ANC-run Gauteng government has also repeatedly voiced its opposition to e-tolls.

In May, Gauteng transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo said the provincial government wanted e-tolls to be scrapped.

“We reaffirm our view that the e-tolling system in its current form burdens Gauteng residents on a matter that involves the national economy and the economies of neighbouring states,” he said.

Additional reporting by Asanda Matlhare

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Source: citizen