The official end of e-tolls is in sight

 ·19 Feb 2024

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi announced the e-toll gantries in Gauteng will officially start being switched off and delinked as soon as next month.

This was the announcement made during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Monday (19 February 2024).

“E-tolls were a system that was introduced to our province by the national government in a bid to improve our roads. However, we have reached a point where we all accept that the people of Gauteng have rejected e-tolls,” Lesufi said.

He added that he had a meeting with all affected parties – including the minister of finance and transport – and “we have reached an agreement that by 31 March 2024, we will start the formal process of switching off and delinking the e-toll system”.

E-tolls will be history in Gauteng,” he said.

Lesufi added Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana would elaborate on this decision during his Budget Speech on Wednesday (21 February).

During the 2022 medium-term budget speech (MTBPS), Godongwana announced that the Gauteng provincial government and national government collectively agreed to contribute 30% and 70%, respectively, to service Sanral’s debt and interest obligations, which includes e-tolls, after which the gantries will be decommissioned.

Since 2022, the main roadblocks standing in the way of ending the controversial scheme were the absence of a binding agreement between the Gauteng and national governments on the province’s financial commitments to pay off its share of the debt, its contribution to the maintenance backlog, and the administrative costs associated with the recovery of toll payments from defaulting users, finance minister Enoch Godongwana revealed in an official parliamentary inquiry last year.

Over a year after the initial announcement, however, e-tolls were still billing motorists on a daily basis, and their payment collections contract has been extended into December 2023.

“The continued delay in ending the e-toll system has been a betrayal of the trust that citizens have placed in their government,” the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said.

“We have patiently awaited relief from this irrational system, and the government’s inaction has caused needless stress to South African motorists.”

While the premier announced the “switch off” of e-tolls, this cannot be formally done until the regulations enabling the system have been repealed and the related laws unwound.

It is not yet clear if this process will only start on 31 March, or if the necessary legislation will be processed before then and the system officially switched off. More information is expected to be forthcoming in the coming days.

Read: E-toll waiting game breeds uncertainty

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