Companies still scoring big from e-tolls – thanks to this loophole

 ·9 Jun 2023

E-tolls continue to operate in Gauteng despite Finance Minister Enoch Godongwans saying that controversial tolls would be scrapped at the start of 2023.

E-tolls have been a major area of contention for Gauteng motorists since their launch in 2013, with widespread non-payment occurring, resulting in Sanral having a debt bill totalling more than R47 billion.

Speaking to EWN, OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage said that more than 90% of motorists are not paying their fees.

“We’ve written to the Minister [of Finance], we’ve written to the [Gauteng] Premier, we’ve engaged with Sanral, and quite frankly, people aren’t paying,” Duvenage said.

However, a small group of companies continue to pay e-tolls as they benefit from the scheme.

“I think it’s less than 10%. Those that are paying don’t mind because the companies are making money out of the scheme.”

Duvenage, who was previously the CEO of popular rental car company AVIS South Africa, told BusinessTech that rental car companies were making a profit from e-tolls.

“The car rental and fleet management companies are actually making money out of the thee-toll scheme, as their bills from Sanral per vehicle are capped per month, yet they don’t cap the e-toll charges to their short term users.”

“They also charge ‘admin fees’ on top of the e-toll charges. This might explain why they are not rushing to stop paying their (clients’) e-tolls.”

The OUTA CEO added that car rental and leasing companies should stop participating in the failed scheme.

“If the government has announced the end of the scheme and also stated that those who have paid will be refunded, then why on earth do car rental and fleet companies continue to support the scheme?”

No end in sight 

However, there seems to be no end in sight for e-tolls as the Gauteng Provincial government cannot find the funds to cover its part of the deal.

In October 2022, it was announced that National Treasury would finance 70% of Sanral’s Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project debt, whilst the Gauteng government would pay the remaining 30%.

However, the Gauteng government is yet to find the roughly R13 billion needed to fulfil its commitment.

In addition, the issue with the Gauteng government and e-tolls goes even further, as Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi previously said that the provincial government would offer refunds worth R6.8 billion to motorists who paid their e-tolls.

It remains unclear if the provincial government can even afford to refund motorists such a large amount, with Duvenage saying that the premier did not put much thought into his statement.

Gauteng Finance MEC Jacob Mamabolo did not allocate any funds in the province’s budget to settle e-tolls debts, instead saying that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the provincial government and treasury will establish how much the provincial government owes.

The MOU is yet to be finalised, further delaying the switching off of the gantries.

Read: Volvo launching new electric SUV in South Africa – and it will be one of the most affordable cars it sells

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter