Government's deafening e-toll silence

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27/02/2020 12:52:13

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Government's deafening e-toll silence

                                                                                                                                                                                                        On numerous occasions throughout 2019 the Cabinet assured citizens that a decision would be made on the future of the Gauteng e-toll saga, but every deadline presented was missed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        After missing the 16 December 2019 deadline, the public were once again assured that Cabinet would make its decision at its first meeting at the end of January and make this public. We are now at the end of February and still none the wiser.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Neither the Gauteng State of the Province Address (SOPA) nor the national Budget speech this week provided any indication of how the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) upgrade bonds would be financed going forward, despite the government’s knowledge that the current e-toll income levels barely cover the collection costs and there is virtually nothing left to offset the GFIP debt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        We have been led to believe that a announcement from either the President or the Minister of Finance is imminent. But we’ve heard this before and frustration at the inability to provide clarity on the failed e-toll scheme is now further damaging what is left of government’s credibility on this issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are now no more than one-in-five road users who pay their e-tolls.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        OUTA is now receiving calls from those compliant road users, asking what they should do under these uncertain conditions. Many businesses are uncompetitive and express concern that so few people are paying toward this highly questionable and dubious scheme.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        “We have always claimed the e-toll scheme was introduced unlawfully and as a result are defending thousands of citizens who were once summonsed by SANRAL for non-payment,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA CEO. “SANRAL abandoned the test case process a year ago and the current indecision has led to more users halting their payment of e-tolls.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Accordingly, we believe the public’s money is best kept in their bank accounts rather than in SANRAL’s because, if the scheme is scrapped, it is highly likely that those who have paid their e-tolls will not be refunded.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                        OUTA calls on the President and Cabinet to keep to their promises and provide South Africa with their final decision on the e-toll scheme’s future. We cannot remain in limbo with a failed scheme that has proved to be grossly inefficient and unenforceable, with its current low-income stream merely enriching a foreign company. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Picture: OUTA

                                                                                                                                                                                                        OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.