Mbalula promises solution to Gauteng e-tolls saga in two weeks
Transport minister had earlier promised that issue would be resolved in March
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has told parliament that the Gauteng e-tolls saga will finally be resolved in two weeks' time.
Addressing the National Council of Provinces, Mbalula said he would make an announcement in two weeks — after the approval of his plan by the cabinet.
“We are engaging with the Treasury and we are at the tail-end of our processes ... We expect that in the next two weeks we should be back to cabinet. Before we table our budget vote speech, we should have gone to you and to the public to announce the cabinet decision on the e-tolls.
“It has taken longer than we would have liked. We thought by now we would have finalised but unfortunately it's a big decision. We are not working alone. We go back and forth with Treasury on these issues, and that's how it is,” said Mbalula.
The e-tolls saga has been one of the political hot potatoes Mbalula has had to deal with as a minister of transport because of resistance by civil society, unions and both the Gauteng government and the ANC.
He had earlier promised that the e-tolls issue would be resolved in March this year but his department missed that deadline.
The Treasury has been taking a hard stance on the matter, with finance minister Tito Mboweni repeatedly emphasising the user-pay principle on a number of occasions.
The Gauteng government, on the other hand, has been sympathetic with motorists, saying it was unfair to force them to pay for e-tolls. Premier David Makhura has on numerous occasions campaigned on the ticket that his government will scrap the e-tolls.
Even opposition parties in the province are opposed to the enforcement of e-tolls. E-tolls were a flop from the beginning when Gauteng motorists decided not to purchase eTags, nor pay their bills in protest and its enforcement has since been stalled.
In March, Business Day quoted Gauteng public transport and roads infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo saying the province had made a compelling argument to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mbalula and Mboweni, which they were confident would resolve the e-tolls matter.
“We have made a compelling case clearly stating that it is not correct for residents of our province to be burdened with paying for e-tolls,” Mamabolo was quoted saying.
“We are of the strongest view that the freeway network that is being tolled services the national economy and the Southern African Development Community, as well as the international economy. It is therefore not fair to expect the people of our province to carry the burden.”