e-Tolls no show in Gauteng budget, residents left in limbo

The Gauteng budget for 2023/24 does not highlight how the provincial government will fund its e-Toll debt.

This shows that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) committed to the e-Toll liability without knowing how it will fund its share of the debt.

National Treasury has also indicated to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during a budget meeting last night that there was no clarity on how Gauteng intended to fund its liability.

In addition, Treasury stated that using e-Toll gantries remains an option to generate revenue. However, the Gauteng government will have to decide how it wants to fund the e-Toll debt as well as its promise to repay motorists who had paid e-Tolls.

This follows after the Premier boldly announced in his State of the Province Address that e-Tolls have been scrapped.

It is worrying that the Gauteng government has no plan to fund e-Toll debt. It committed to a decision to scrap e-Tolls and take on the debt for the sake of political expediency.

The DA’s position remains clear that e-Tolls must be scrapped but that this must not be funded through a new or increased tax, as this will not lighten the burden on Gauteng residents.

There is sufficient income generated by fuel levies in Gauteng to repay the debt. The DA also proposed that under expenditure by the government be used as a funding source for e-Toll debt.

The DA will continue to fight against e-Tolls and any possible new taxes.


Gauteng still searching for money for e-Tolls while motorists suffer

The Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi has confirmed that the current liability towards e-Tolls for Gauteng is R 12,9 billion but he has no answer on how the province will fund it.

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) committed to paying the e-Toll debt and a further R2 billion for the maintenance of the highways over the next three years without knowing where the money will come from.

Lesufi also committed that the current budget allocations in Gauteng will not be affected and that additional funds will be raised to fund these additional commitments. His only proposal thus far is that a “hybrid model” will be developed to which residents will have to contribute.

Clearly, the plan is to replace e-Tolls with another form of tax on Gauteng residents so that the Gauteng government can cover its newly acquired liability towards the scrapping of the system. It is the only way additional revenue can be generated. This is not what the residents of Gauteng want.

It is also likely that the R12,9 billion liability will end up being much more than the current amount as the GPG wants to pay the liability off over the long term. This repayment plan will attract further interest and cause the liability to balloon. The R12,9 billion is already inordinately high.

The DA believes that an alternative solution should be sought to reduce the liability on both the provincial government and the residents of Gauteng. The province cannot afford any further pressures on it that could inhibit economic growth.

The DA proposes that the under-expenditure by government departments should be utilized to pay towards the e-Toll loans as a starting point. The very high taxes on fuel can also be used to contribute towards the repayment of loans. These are just two proposals that do not require any additional taxes.

The DA will continue keeping the GPG to account for its commitment to scrap e-Tolls and ensure that Gauteng residents are not burdened with any new taxes.

Gauteng motorists continue to suffer as e-Tolls are not scrapped

The National Treasury confirmed during a parliamentary debate on the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) this week, that e-Tolls have not been scrapped and will become an income generator for Gauteng.

Although the debt has been taken over by government, the management of e-Tolls has now been transferred to the Gauteng Provincial Government and the gantries could possibly remain operational.

It is likely that this will be used to pay the percentage the 70/30 split of e-Toll debt that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) and national government will take over from the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL).

It is kind of mind boggling that the e-Toll system will remain, despite the initial debt for this unwanted system being covered by the government.

It is a reasonable expectation that e-Tolls must be scrapped considering that the debt will be settled. The DA demands that Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi , must urgently outline how this system is going to work. We will continue the fight for e-Tolls to be scrapped in this province.

A new tax will burden Gauteng motorists in place of e-Tolls

Gauteng motorists can expect the introduction of a new or increased tax to pay for e-Tolls. Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi announced that he tasked finance MEC Jacob Mamabolo to come up with a “new revenue model” so that the debt incurred to build the e-Toll roads must “be taken away from the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral)”.

The only way a new revenue model to repay the loans can be devised is either through the introduction of a new tax or the increase of an existing tax, like vehicle license fees. The concept of a “new revenue model” must not be confused with the scrapping of e-Tolls without any further cost to Gauteng residents.

The current budget of the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) does not have sufficient room to move to cover these debts within its current revenue and expenditure framework. New sources of funding will have to be found to cover debts taken over from Sanral.

The DA has opposed e-Tolls for the past 13 years, and we will continue with our campaign to have this unwanted system scrapped. We have maintained that enough revenue was already generated through fuel levies in Gauteng that could already have paid off the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). Gauteng generates the bulk in fuel levies and taxes in South Africa.

It is, therefore, possible to pay off the GFIP debt through existing revenue-generating mechanisms.

Additional 5% to be added on the unwanted e-Toll fees, while residents are already battling high cost of living

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has learnt with great disappointment that the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has increased e-Toll fees by 5%. 

This is once again confirmation that the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has absolutely no intention of getting rid of e-Tolls. 

This is extremely disappointing as it means that for at least the last five years the people of Gauteng have been lied to about e-Tolls. 

 Every year since 2018, the Minister of Transport, Premier David Makhura and MEC for Roads and Transport have been promising that e-Tolls will be scrapped. 

 This has come to naught and our residents continue to get e-Toll bills which they cannot afford to pay. 

 Our residents already have a tight budget and e-Tolls is just an extra burden on them. 

 The DA maintains that e-Tolls have no place in Gauteng and they should be scrapped immediately. 

 It is high time that Mbalula makes a firm decision on e-Tolls. 

 We will continue to put pressure on National and Provincial Government to scrap e-Tolls and we will use all mechanisms at our disposal in all the spheres of government to fight e-Tolls. 



Gauteng Health spends more than R1 million on e-Tolls

The Gauteng Health Department has spent R1 064 420 on e-tolls for its vehicles since January last year.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, the Department has no outstanding e-toll payments except for R65 000 for a current invoice in process.

The e-tolls in Gauteng were launched 8 years ago on 3 December 2013, and have cost the Department more than R4 million over this entire period.

Despite Premier David Makhura’s frequent promises that the e-tolls would be scrapped, they remain as an unnecessary expense for government departments and those business that still pay them, although most motorists don’t.

There is no sense in continuing the e-tolls as the collection costs outweigh the money that is brought in.

Government’s excuses are wearing thin – the e-tolls need to go!

Gauteng motorists bleeding more of their money as Mbalula evades e-Toll decision

Gauteng motorists and consumers are still burdened by the unwanted e-Tolls system that increases the cost of doing business in Gauteng as well as that of consumer goods. Considering the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and government lockdowns, Gauteng residents need all the help they can get to get by and survive. Scrapping e-Tolls will be a step in the right direction.

The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has strung along motorists and consumers in the province since February this year, promising imminent announcements on the future of e-Tolls no less than four times. The last time he made this promise was in May.

It is almost two months since his last deadline of making an announcement and not a peep has been heard from the Minister. Each time he points a finger to Cabinet who needs to make the final decision.

It is clear that Mbalula cannot get an agreement from Cabinet and that he is clearly at loggerheads with his colleagues who seem to be concerned about the cost of scrapping the system.

Mbalula can no longer evade responsibility on e-Tolls and his delaying tactics is causing more suspicion about the government’s intentions to scrap the system. The ANC government is clearly playing for time as the announcement may make things uncomfortable for them on 27 October when the local government elections are scheduled to take place. They clearly do not want to make their decision known before then.

The DA has been at the forefront opposing the e-toll system in Gauteng and we will continue with our campaign to pressurize Mbalula and Cabinet for a decision. I will be working with my colleagues in Parliament to call the government to account on e-Tolls so that we can get a resolution on the matter once and for all.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Whatever happened to government for the people?

Madam Speaker

I predict that future generations will read about the e-Tolls saga and wonder why leaders in public office saw fit to curse the people of the country’s most wealthy province for so long with a scheme that carried great cost with so little benefit.

The apologists for e-Tolls will shout out an indignant response saying, “What about the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP)?”. But they are either confused or dishonest. The GFIP does not equal e-Tolls. There were certainly other ways to finance the GFIP, such as 10 cents per litre portion of the fuel levy, where the roads would have been paid off ages ago.

Whatever happened to “government for the people?” The truth is, the people of Gauteng do not want e-Tolls.

If you look at SANRAL’s annual reports, you will see that ETC, the collection agency for e-Tolls, is only able to collect 22% of the budget income for the tolling system. That means 78% of the road users refuse to pay. Again I say, the people of Gauteng do not want e-Tolls.

In the same reports you will see that the amount of money paid via e-Tolls in 2019 was R688m. In 2020, this had declined to R660m.

Elsewhere in the reports, the Costs of Admin shows that about R570m per years goes towards collection – in other words, this ends up not going pay off the road but straight to ETC, the collection agency. If you do the math, this means that the cost of collection is 84%. Whereas cost of collection of fuel levy would have been zero – lutho – dololo- niks. What language must I use so that the Minister of Finance can understand?

So how do you explain why this ANC government persists on using a scheme whereby only 16% of the money collected goes to paying off the roads when another method would ensure 100% paid is used to repay the costs?

There is only one explanation that would make any logical sense: there must be a financial reward gained by a decision maker(s) in government in order to keep the contract going. There is a word for this. It’s corruption. There is nothing else that can explain the mad determination to keep e-Tolls going, particularly after ETC’s contract ended, only to be extended again and again.

Mr Premier, thank you for supporting us. But it is the outcome that counts. In this respect, your posturing, specifically in election years, counts for nothing. The e-Tolls are still with us.

Residents deserve better than the failed e-Toll system

Madam Speaker,   

e-Tolls have been imposed on the residents of Gauteng since December 2013. It is a system that has not worked, and has placed undue burden on the residents of this province. The DA has always been opposed to e-Tolling as this was not something that the residents of Gauteng were properly consulted on.   

To cover themselves, Sanral took out an advert in six newspapers in October 2007 in a measly attempt to consult the public. In response to this call for comment on e-Tolls, Sanral only received 28 responses, one of which was a petition with 55 signatures. Despite this low number of responses, Sanral was satisfied that it had done all it could to engage with the public on the matter and then proceeded with the system.   

In 2018, the DA raised some serious concerns about the e-Tolling system and the impact it would have on motorists when the demerit system would be implemented by government. With this unfair system, for each infringement incurred by a driver, a certain number of points or fine would be imposed. This meant at the time – in 2018 – that not paying your e-Toll bill would be the equivalent of ignoring a stop sign and would see a driver lose demerit points. When we revealed this, this ANC-led government under the leadership of Premier David Makhura insisted that a solution to e-Tolls would be found.   

Madam Speaker, Premier Makhura quickly tried to assure residents that a solution would be found to e-Tolls. Later on in 2018, MEC Lesufi announced that e-Tolls would be gone before the May general elections in 2019. It is now 2021 and guess what?  e-Tolls are still with us. Earlier this year, the National Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbabula announced that by the end of March this year, an announcement will be made on e-Tolls. And was there an announcement from Mbalula? No. Only crickets as residents continue to struggle under this system while they are expected to fork out more for electricity and food, amongst others.   

It is clear that all this ANC-led government is doing, is to use the e-Toll issue during an election year as a ploy to get votes, but when it actually comes to ensuring that promises are delivered on as the ruling party, they are absolutely nowhere to be found. Our residents deserve better than empty promises year after year. In fact, Madam Speaker, Premier Makhura’s very own task team that he established in 2014 found that e-Tolls were not feasible and that another solution to paying for the upgrading of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project must be realised.   

As the DA, we have called on you, Premier Makhura to lodge an intergovernmental dispute on e-Tolls. It is clear that this is the only solution left to finding a way forward. The user pay approach is not working in Gauteng and that a more inclusive process on paying for the upgrades of our roads is needed if we want the buy-in of every resident.  

In order to resolve this, we urge Premier Makhura to put residents first, and to please fast track the processing of abandoning e-Tolls in Gauteng and present this House with an intergovernmental plan to scrap e-Tolls within 30 days.   

The residents of Gauteng deserve to be released from the burden of this disastrous income-eating termite of a tolling system. 

More promises from Mbalula on e-Tolls yet Gauteng residents struggle to make ends meet

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes the comments by National Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula that an announcement will be made on e-Tolls in the province in the next two weeks.

This promise is nothing new and we have heard similar undertakings before from Minister Mbalula which has come to naught.

The DA has for the longest time said that e-Tolls are an unfair burden on the residents of Gauteng who are already struggling to make ends meet.

It is important now more than ever that a decision is finally made on e-Tolls as the cost of basic food and petrol has gone up over the last year, putting further pressure on residents who have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

An announcement on the future of e-Tolls was supposed to have been made last month, but according to the Minister of Transport, this could not happen because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We sincerely hope that Mbalula sticks to his promise this time as residents have been forced to pay for something that they did not agree to in the first place.

The DA will continue to put pressure on Premier David Makhura to lodge an intergovernmental dispute on the matter as this has been an issue since the implementation of e-Tolls in 2013.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.