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Warning for South Africans planning to get e-tags after e-toll shutdown

Motorists looking to get e-tags after the shutdown of Gauteng’s electronic tolls may be forced to pay their outstanding e-toll accounts inadvertently.

At present, it is still undecided whether e-toll debt will be written off when the system stops billing motorists at midnight on 11 April.

Subsequently, Wayne Duvenage, CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), has warned motorists that signing up for a new e-tag connected to a number plate with outstanding debt will link that tag to the same bill with e-toll charges from gantries in Gauteng.

As such, the e-tag could possibly allocate any funds you upload to clearing unpaid e-toll debts.

The minister of transport Sindisiwe Chikunga confirmed that e-tags will still function at conventional toll plazas after the shutdown of e-tolls.

Hence, they present a more convenient way to navigate the country’s toll plazas as they allow motorists to load credit and take an express lane through the gantries to avoid stopping and paying with their card or cash.

“If someone now wants to take up the benefit of fitting an e-tag, and they find their account being debited for past outstanding bills, this will merely generate a reaction of not fitting e-tags to their vehicles for billing on other tolled routes,” Duvenage told MyBroadband.

“I believe if Sanral’s (National Roads Agency) system does debit motorists for past debt, they will be shooting themselves in the foot and stifle the opportunity to increase the uptake of e-tags for the expanded use and repurposing of the e-tag system.”

The three entities in charge of the tolling system – the Department of Transport, Gauteng Provincial Government, and Sanral – will host a press briefing today, 10 April 2024, where they are expected to discuss the finer details of the switch-off, including potential refunds and account settlements.

Taxpayers flipping the bill

The e-toll saga has been mired in controversy and the shutdown is heralded as a big win for the general public, however, there is one big caveat.

You, the taxpayer, will settle the R43-billion debt racked up by the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project over the past 13 years, of which e-tolls were a primary element.

National Treasury is on the hook for R30.1 billion of the total bill while the Gauteng Provincial Government must pay the remaining R12.9 billion.

According to the most recent budget report, R2-3 billion of the Treasury’s income has been set aside this year to pay back the e-toll account from tax sources such as vehicle licencing fees, gambling, betting, and excise taxes.

Therefore, it will have to reduce spending in other areas that typically benefit from tax revenue in order to satisfy outstanding payments incurred by the failed tolling system.

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