Trouble for e-tolls in South Africa

 ·6 Aug 2023

Despite the promise that the end of e-tolls was to be finalised by the end of 2022, the Gauteng Provincial Government still has no formal plans to shut down the gantries or how they will foot the e-toll debt owed – meaning motorists could have to continue paying for e-Tolls for the foreseeable future.

According to a recent parliamentary Q&A, the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) and the Department of Transport (DoT) have no plans in place to end e-Tolls.

MEC for Roads and Transport, Kedibone Diale, in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), revealed that the GPG had set up a steering committee to find a solution to how e-tolls in the province can be ended.

However, nothing has come of the committee, and any suggested solutions drafted must still be approved – meaning there are no solutions yet.

Additionally, in its response to the parliamentary Q&A, the GPG was unable to give an exact amount that needs to be paid towards the e-toll debt – suggesting there is also no plan on how the GPG plans to foot its portion of the e-toll debt, which is also a worrying sign.

As a result, The Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement that Gauteng residents will have to continue paying for e-Tolls for the foreseeable future. “This is unfair towards the residents of Gauteng, who struggle to make ends meet due to the high cost of living. They also did not agree to the e-Tolling system in the first place,” it said.

“The Gauteng Provincial Government and Department of Transport have no plans in place to end e-tolls, and the government’s incompetence clearly indicates that the announcement of e-tolls being scrapped was made prematurely,” the party added.

These remarks are evident in that The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) confirmed that its collection contract had been extended to 15 December 2023, meaning motorists must pay their e-toll bills until the relevant legislation has been repealed.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) labelled the contract extension and consequent delay to the e-toll shutdown as “either gross ineptitude, incompetence, or a reluctance by Government to end the scheme, for some unknown or obscure reason.”

Outa believes the contract extension is an overreach and a waste of money, considering the end of e-tolls was promised to be finalised by the end of 2022.

In response to its e-toll collection contract extension, Sanral said it reports to the relevant political principals – the Department of Transport and the Premier of Gauteng – and has yet to receive an instruction indicating the way forward.

Outa noted that ending the e-tolls requires the Minister of Transport to declare the GFIP roads no longer subject to tolls, which has not been done. So, e-toll bills will still go out every month, and technically, motorists must pay by law.

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