Civil society group Outa has warned that the government’s decision to retain e-tolls will be met by fierce opposition from the public.
Speaking in his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) on Wednesday, finance minister Tito Mboweni said that after considering a number of issues, it was decided that government would remain committed to a ‘user-pay’ model.
He added that there will be a further dispensation and value-added services under the new system and that compliance will also be strengthened.
However, Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage says that while the gantries might be here to stay, e-toll collections are not.
Duvenage said that compliance under the tolling system is at an all-time low of 20%, and that the government has failed to address this issue for the past six years.
“Why is it so important for them to cling to a system that is the most expensive scheme in the world, which reeks of corruption from the road upgrade to the ETC contract, whose profits enrich a foreign company?”
“The roads cost 100% more than they ought to have and the ETC toll collection contract was inflated by 60% above the tender,” he said.
Duvenage said that transport minister Fikile Mbalula is due to make a major announcement on e-tolls on Thursday (31 October).
“If recent comments by the various ministers are anything to go by, we are not expecting him to cancel the scheme, despite the fact that in virtually all government’s engagements with civil society and business organisations they were called on to scrap it,” said Duvenage.
He added that Outa was prepared to go to court over the issue.
“The test case that has been developed over the past two years has been abandoned or placed on hold for the past eight months by Sanral,” he said.