Minister Fikile Mbalula in an e-toll guessing game
IMPASSE: MBALULA MUM ON ANNOUNCEMENT AS MOTORISTS FAIL TO PAY
Decision on the future of e-tolls will be finalised at next Cabinet meeting.
Gauteng motorists will go into the new year none the wiser on the future of the contentious e-tolling system, with Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s promise of an announcement before Christmas coming to naught.
Mbalula became under immense pressure on the e-tolls impasse after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, in his medium-term budget policy statement, said e-tolls were here to stay, urging motorists to pay and insisting that government was to strengthen enforcement compliance from motorists.
The minister, however, remained tight-lipped on the future of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project yesterday.
Speaking to journalists during his inspection of SA National Road Agency Limited’s hi-tech traffic management centre in Centurion yesterday, Mbalula said: “If the e-tolls were to be scrapped, the gantries will be used for crime detection. I am not saying the e-tolls will be scrapped.”
This after Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, revealing that though Cabinet had “noted” the report of the task team led by Mbalula, Cabinet was yet to decide on the impasse.
He maintained that the decision on the future of the e-tolls will be finalised in the next Cabinet meeting, the main issue was finding mechanisms for road users to pay for road improvements.
Mthembu said the transport department had worked out the available options, saying “…what we were busy discussing were the most appropriate options, not only for the Gauteng e-tolls, but for our road infrastructure improvement in the country”.
Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), previously the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, has said that strong indications were that e-tolls will be scrapped.
Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said Gauteng e-tolls were doomed for failure from their inception and that the only logical move was to take them off life support.
“Government is not making money, everything goes to collections and they expected 90% compliance rate but only managed 20%. The scheme has collapsed and the reading between the lines is that Cabinet will announce the scrapping of the e-tolls in February or the announcement will be made by (Mboweni) in his February budget speech,” he said.
Sanral has extended its current contract with e-tolls contractor, the Electronic Tolling Company, with another three months, which will expire in February.
Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa tasked Mbalula to head up a task team to find a solution to the e-tolls impasse as motorists refused to pay, with Gauteng motorists first promised a decision by the end of August.
I am not saying the e-tolls will be scrapped
IT IS NO LAUGHING MATTER. During his inspection of SA National Road Agency Limited’s (Sanral) hi-tech traffic management centre in Centurion yesterday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula was mum about the future of e-tolls.