Un­cer­tainty over whether e-tolls will stay or go

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - MANYANE MANYANE manyane.manyane@inl.co.za

THE bal­loon­ing e-tolls debt has put var­i­ous stake­hold­ers on a col­li­sion course.

The ANC in Gaut­eng re­cently marched to the Union Build­ings fol­low­ing Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tito Mboweni’s call for road users to foot the bill for the up­graded road net­works.

Mo­torists have, in turn, dug in their heels de­spite be­ing served with sum­monses for not pay­ing their bills.

This comes as the SA Na­tional Roads Agency Lim­ited (San­ral), which sup­ports the “user pays” prin­ci­ple, said it was owed bil­lions of rand.

“The ini­tial con­struc­tion cost, in­clud­ing the erec­tion of the toll gantries, was R20 bil­lion. The road up­grades in­cluded widen­ing and up­grad­ing of free­ways,” said the roads agency.

In­de­pen­dent le­gal ex­pert Lehlo­honolo Mad­u­misa said San­ral had no right to sum­mons mo­torists as no one had agreed to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of e-tolls.

“It doesn’t make sense for San­ral to take any­one to court be­cause peo­ple made it clear that they don’t want e-tolls. If there is a law or pol­icy like that, then it should go through pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion,” said Mad­u­misa.

On the other hand, Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse head of lo­cal govern­ment Makhosi Khoza said the ANC march was linked to the 2019 elec­tions. “It’s very clear that the ANC in Gaut­eng is go­ing to lose the elec­tions if they don’t do some­thing about the e-tolls. But at na­tional level there is agree­ment.

“You heard Tito (Mboweni) say­ing they are go­ing ahead, and even Blade Nz­i­mande is say­ing e-tolling is go­ing ahead,” said Khoza. “We are start­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence declining rev­enues na­tion­ally, so the ANC can’t af­ford to do away with e-tolls. The party al­lowed the e-tolls to go ahead for a long time and now they don’t know if they are go­ing to do away with them.”

But ANC Gaut­eng spokesper­son Tas­neem Motara dis­puted Khoza’s sen­ti­ments, say­ing “not all govern­ment de­ci­sions are cast in stone”.

“If need be, govern­ment can re-look their de­ci­sions and change them if re­quired. In our view, this is such a de­ci­sion that needs to be changed, and we be­lieve we will be able to do so.”

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