Uncertainty over whether e-tolls will stay or go
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.”