Gauteng Premier David Makhura largely side-stepped the controversial topic of e-tolls in his state of the province address on Tuesday (25 February), despite expectations that the issue would finally be addressed.
The premier only mentioned e-tolls once near the end of his more than two-hour-long address, noting that President Cyril Ramaphosa has made a decision on the matter, and would soon make an announcement.
“As the executive council, we made a strong and persuasive case to national government on the e-tolls.
“I have been assured by president Cyril Ramaphosa that a lasting solution has been found and an announcement by the president is imminent.”
Government has flip-flopped on the issue of e-tolls with the Gauteng government indicating that it supports the scrapping of the system, while Treasury has indicated that it can afford the debt repayments.
At the end of 2019, finance minister Tito Mboweni said that the system cannot be scrapped unless a replacement revenue source is found.
Mboweni said that financing the GFIP is done on a corporate finance basis and not a project finance basis.
This means that borrowing for toll roads is done on the basis that there is a revenue stream to finance the debt, he said.
“A significant portion of the South African National Roads Agency’s existing debt was to finance the upgrade of roads on GFIP and it requires a revenue stream to finance it, so e-tolls cannot be abolished without a revenue stream to finance existing commitments.”
E-tolls were also included in a recent government gazette focusing on toll pricing, indicating that the system may be here to stay.
Read Makhura’s full address below: