Civil action group Outa has warned that government’s latest e-toll proposals will only make the situation worse.
On Sunday (1 September), the City Press reported that the cabinet’s task team on tolling planned to submit seven proposals to cabinet to resolve the e-toll crisis – including discounting e-tolls by as much as 70%.
Another of the proposals is to reduce the e-toll fees to 10c per gantry, effectively reducing the tariff to just 3% of the current R3 per toll.
Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said that reducing e-toll tariffs in the hope that compliance and revenue will increase won’t rectify the dismal e-toll revenue situation, and makes matters worse when it comes to settling the bonds.
“Current compliance levels are about 20%, today bringing in just R55 million a month, which is a shortfall of almost R250 million per month,” Duvenage said.
“Even if there is 100% compliance by motorists with a 70% discount, this isn’t going to bring Sanral much more revenue. Reducing the toll tariffs or reversing past debt to entice the public to come on board will never resolve the GFIP bond payment problem.
“Our view is the scheme should be scrapped and we have repeatedly explained why this is the case,” he said.
Duvenage added that Sanral tried reducing tariffs in 2015 by offering a 60% discount on outstanding debt, just two years after the scheme started operating.
All this discount did was raise 2% of the outstanding debt while compliance levels continued to decline, he said.
“The administrative environment in South Africa will never support an efficient e-toll scheme and it is time for our government to realise this, as have other countries around the world which abandoned their failed e-toll schemes,” said Duvenage.
“The Gauteng e-toll project is the most expensive and inefficient scheme in the world and will never achieve its intended aims of financing the overpriced Gauteng freeway upgrade.”
While the Department of Transport was expected to announce government’s way forward with e-tolls at the end of August, this has now been delayed by two weeks and is expected mid-September.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula met with Outa and the Automobile Association in late August in a bid to get input from key opponents and stakeholders.
The groups described the meetings as constructive.