The Department of Transport says that it still does not have not a definite solution on the future of e-tolls, as the system continues to hinder the country’s transport sector.
E-tolls have been met with resistance from road users since inception in 2013, leading to non-payment by many, and calls to scrap the system altogether.
President Cyril Ramamphosa, Transport minister Fikile Mbalula and the Gauteng provincial government have all acknowledged the system’s failings, and have pledged to address the issues.
However, the Department of Transport’s revised strategic plan – which includes strategies up to the 2024/2025 financial year – shows that no immediate solution is forthcoming.
The Department said that world-class road infrastructure is essential to the country’s infrastructure plans, which means it critical to create policy and legal certainty about the future of the toll road system.
It added that the current lack of certainty impacts the road agency’s ability to raise capital on the bond market, improve its credit ratings and meet its debt obligations.
“With the decision on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) still outstanding, a number of options have already been considered,” the department said.
“The Department of Transport will continue to engage with the National Treasury to ensure that the final decision made is sustainable and in the best interest of South Africans.”
“In relation to this, the Department of Transport will, in the medium-term, embark on the process of developing the Road Infrastructure Funding Policy to ensure that South Africa has a lasting solution to continued divergent stances around the toll road system and the user-pay principle.”
In October 2020, transport minister Mbalula said that his department is being impeded from rolling out new road infrastructure projects because of a lack of resolution around e-tolls.
At the time, the minister said that president Ramaphosa’s cabinet is set to finalise a new funding model for the project after receiving proposals from his department.
Mbalula admitted that he thought the issue would have been resolved by now, but that the process has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.