Another promise of a decision on e-tolls
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has once again promised an announcement on an alternative funding solution to the e-tolls for the Gauteng freeways, this time in the October Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
The decision, promised since July 2019 but still awaited, is expected to formally scrap the e-toll scheme and announce an alternative funding solution for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). This came four months after the SANRAL board passed an urgent resolution in March 2019 stating that it will no longer pursue criminal action against motorists with outstanding e-toll debt.
“We are aware that the e-toll decision has already been made by Cabinet, which has been commented on by the Minister several times since last year,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA CEO.
“We are also aware that this decision would most likely have involved an increase in the fuel levy to generate the necessary revenue to pay for the maturing GFIP bonds, as was confirmed by the Minister. However, the fuel levy option they had planned has become a headache in today's environment of soaring fuel prices. That horse has now bolted.
“OUTA will never endorse an increase in the fuel levy at this late stage to cover the GFIP bonds. The option of a 10c increase in the fuel levy was proposed by us in 2011, when the fuel levy was R1.78 per litre, and was viable back then. Had they followed our advice, and allocated the additional R2.2 billion raised per annum from a 10c fuel levy increase to the GFIP bonds, the R18 billion borrowed for the overpriced freeway upgrade would have been settled by now.”
National Treasury has increased the general fuel levy by R2.07 per litre since 2011 and has already allocated an additional R14 billion over the past six years to SANRAL for the GFIP bonds. This funding by government is what OUTA has repeatedly suggested.
“There is no reason for Government to continue procrastinating on the e-toll decision. The scheme should be scrapped as soon as possible, to free up unnecessary administration costs allocated to the scheme,” says Duvenage. “This would also provide relief for the last 15% of users who continue to pay.”
In August 2019, a month after Cabinet announced it was looking for alternative funding for the GFIP, OUTA made a submission to the Minister of Transport motivating for e-tolls to be scrapped and alternative funding arranged.
A soundclip with comment by OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage is here.
More on OUTA’s campaign against e-tolls is here.