E-toll shutdown delayed

 ·2 Jan 2023

The shutting down of e-tolling in Gauteng, which was supposed to be completed by 31 December, has been pushed into 2023.

Following Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana’s announcement on 26 October 2022 of a new financing mechanism for the Gauteng freeway upgrade debt to replace the failed e-toll scheme, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi indicated that the e-tolls would be scrapped as soon as Gauteng reached an agreement with National Treasury.

“There is a process that needs to be followed by the government, so the technical team led by our director-general will assist us. As indicated by National Treasury, we have until December 31 to conclude that task,” he said in November.

On 31 December, the Gauteng Premier’s Office released a statement saying that “due to the need to finalise key components of the MOU between the National Government and the Provincial Government, the matter will be finalised in the new year (2023)”. This means that the planned deactivation of the scheme by 31 December did not take place.

Civil action group Outa said it was not surprised by the delay.

“Over the past few years, the authorities have indicated several dates and deadlines for the defunct scheme to be scrapped and missed them all,” it said.

Scrapping the scheme requires formally declaring that the Gauteng freeway network roads are no longer toll roads through a gazetted notice to be issued by the Department of Transport. Premier Lesufi said the switch-off will take place 14 days after the release of the gazette.

This essentially means that until the MOU between the province and national government has been concluded, the gazette will not be published, and Sanral will continue to charge e-tolls.

“We maintain that the very small percentage of road users who are still paying for e-tolls are wasting their money, as the likelihood of getting a refund is slim to zero,” said Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage.

“We have also pointed out that those who have refused to pay for this irrational and expensive scheme will not be subjected to all the negative consequences that Sanral had once threatened to apply, therefore, while the government continues to dilly-dally over the scheme’s final billing date, we suggest that the few who continue to contribute towards this defunct scheme should stop doing so now.”

Following the announcement that e-tolling would be shut down, the Gauteng government confirmed it would contribute R12.9 billion towards the failed system’s debt.

However, it is not yet clear how the province will raise additional revenue to pay for this.

The provincial government said it will pay the amount over a longer term, using a new ‘hybrid model’ to draw revenue.

Lesufi has not yet specified what the so-called “hybrid model” would be, nor did he say how long the term of payment would be. He previously proposed that the money be paid over 20 years.

The “hybrid model” of revenue collection will be set up through consultation with Gauteng residents and would also provide for the future funding of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and also see to the maintenance of the systems.

“A long-term repayment period will ensure that we relieve the pressure on the provincial government fiscus, while maintaining the delivery of social services and other imperatives such as fighting crime,” Lesufi said.

“More work still needs to be done jointly by the Gauteng government, national Department of Transport, Sanral and National Treasury to clarify maintenance and the decommissioning of e-tolls,” he said.

Read: Something about e-tolls isn’t adding up

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter