Future of e-tolls to be known in two weeks: Mbalula

31 October 2019 - 18:30 By TimesLIVE
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said that cabinet will announce in the next two weeks its decision on e-tolls.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said that cabinet will announce in the next two weeks its decision on e-tolls.
Image: Daniel Born

The future of e-tolls will be known in the next two weeks.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday afternoon that he had put forward at least seven options regarding the future of the controversial freeway funding scheme, which cabinet would have to deliberate over.

Among the options are scrapping e-tolls, keeping the system as it is, adding additional e-toll gantries, selling to a private concession, introducing a public transport fund, and a “hybrid funding model” that would entail a combination of taxes, fuel levy and other sources to subsidise e-tolls.

“We will arrive at a final decision in the next two weeks,” Mbalula said.

He was speaking just a day after finance minister Tito Mboweni said during his mini-budget speech that South Africans would have to follow a user-pays approach to e-tolls — equating it to having to pay for bread bought from a shop.

Mbalula said that Mboweni was speaking “completely from the context of what Treasury must say”.

However, he added that Mboweni was speaking before a cabinet resolution on the matter.

In support of Mboweni, Mbalula said that there was a clear determination that the user-pays principle must be in place — and it was how this was going to work which was being discussed.

He said South Afircans felt that e-tolls were “not fair”, that Gauteng road users were being “over-tolled” and that they felt “hoodwinked” with regards to how the system was implemented.

“But in all that engagement, nobody is saying ‘don’t user-pay’.

“User-pay is what is being considered. It ... underpins any service which government renders. The Father Christmas bucket has not worked,” he said, referring to services that are not paid for.

“At the end of the day, what works for everybody and what works for the country and the best interest of our people?” he said.

Mbalula added that the current e-tolls debt level would peak at R67bn, and require an annual allocation of R2bn.


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