More than three years after its implementation, Gauteng premier David Makhura has admitted that e-tolling was a mistake, and promises there will be no e-tolls on new Gauteng roads.
The controversial e-tolling system in and around Johannesburg is widely regarded as a massive failure due to the non-compliance from citizens.
In his state of the province address on Monday (20 February), Makhura highlighted plans for the province when it comes to transport infrastructure.
“We are mobilising resources for public transport infrastructure in ways that will ensure that we don’t commit the same mistakes done with the e-tolls. We can’t build roads and only later inform citizens that they must pay. In fact, there will no e-tolls on our new roads.
Makhura and the ANC in Gauteng moved to find alternative ways to pay for the costly and onerous tolling system, after it became clear that it would deal a blow to the party’s performance in the province during 2016 municipal elections.
This led to the creation of the e-toll Advisory Panel, which assessed the processes followed in setting up e-tolling, and how government could make the system more affordable for Gauteng residents.
“I must admit publicly, as I did last year, that all the efforts we have made through the Advisory Panel have not led to the resolution of concerns of Gauteng motorists regarding affordability. We have tried our best,” Makhura said.
“The ultimate solution can only come from national level. We will continue to engage in order to represent the interests of our residents,” the premier said.
Lobby group Outa released a graphic in December highlighting the spectacular failure of e-tolls.
Outa chairman Wayne Duvenhage said that only one in five users pay for e-tolls, with 2.9 million motorists in debt.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has maintained that e-tolls will remain despite the billions owed to Sanral because of non-compliance.
Moneyweb reported in late 2016 that motorists owe Sanral more than R6.2 billion in unpaid e-tolls.
Sanral said it has already issued more than 6,000 summonses to non-paying motorists – representing R575 million of outstanding toll fees.
Outa and Sanral have agreed to take a test case on the matter to court.