Although the government appreciates the financial challenges some motorists face, e-tolls are here to stay, said Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.
Briefing the media ahead of her department’s budget vote on Tuesday at parliament, Peters said the 201km Gauteng Freeway Project is already congested and the province, as the economic hub of South Africa, will require more new roads.
“Government has already created space for public transport operators not to pay e-toll and concessions have been given to deserving cases. We’ve also spent more than R1bn in creating alternative roads in Gauteng,” Peters said, adding that South Africans know there is a “user pays” principle and this policy needs to be implemented.
“We need good quality roads, otherwise people will say they have to drive on what’s left of the road and not on the left of the road.”
Peters said 86% of the budget of the South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) comes from the fiscus, while the remaining 14% is the toll component of the budget.
“Through Sanral we continue to fund, manage and maintain our national road network, both tolled and non-tolled. However, this is not sustainable and a public discussion on the issue of roads infrastructure through ‘user pay’ principles and other means, like tolling, need to take place,” Peters said.
For the 2016 to 2017 financial year, the department of transport will allocate R24.5 billion towards road transport, R11.7 billion for public transport and R19bn for rail transport.
Peters expects the 580 new trains, which are being built at the Gibela factory in Nigel, to be ready by October this year. “These massive investments into rail infrastructure will ensure we achieve our objective of providing our people with efficient and effective passenger rail services that meet the demand of our people,” she said.