The Department of Transport has transferred R5.7 billion to the toll road network of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral).
In a statement on Monday (11 March), the department said that the transfer is a ‘strategic intervention’ to deal with the non-payment by Gauteng road users of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), which was designed to use e-tolling as its main funding mechanism.
“As a result of Sanral’s toll network experiencing financial difficulties, and to ensure that Sanral complies to its payment terms to investors, as well as to maintain the toll network across the country, funds were transferred from the non-toll network to the toll network,” said transport minister Blade Nzimande.
Nzimande added that because no additional funding could be sourced from National Treasury to cover the GFIP shortfall, the department had to reprioritise its mid-term spending whilst government is consulting all affected stakeholders on the permanent GFIP financing model.
“However the department of transport is working hard to ensure that this matter of GFIP is resolved speedily,” Nzimande said.
In the 2017/2018 financial year, Sanral was forced to move R1.6 billion from its non-toll business to the toll road portfolio for the same reason.
The Gauteng and national government has continued to flip-flop on the future of e-tolls with no clarity on whether or not the tolling system will be scrapped.
In an interview with Independent Media in December 2018, Gauteng premier David Makhura said that e-tolling has no future in Gauteng and that he has president Cyril Ramaphosa’s ear on the matter.
“I am engaged in discussions with president Cyril Ramaphosa to scrap the e-tolls. I made a persuasive call to him,” he said.
“He understands that these e-tolls are burdensome to the working class owning cars and middle class.”