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E-toll payers to be refunded

Road users that have been paying their e-tolls over the years will have their money refunded, as the controversial tolling project is officially being scrapped.

This is according to Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, who recently spoke about the decision to refund the province’s motorists this Tuesday 3 January on 702.

The premier said that the decision as to whether or not Gauteng’s motorists would be refunded was one of the key issues that led to the delay of the e-toll system’s shutdown.

The tolling project was supposed to be scrapped on the 31st of December 2022, but was pushed into the new year because an agreement had yet to be reached with the National Treasury.

Lesufi went on to say that the scrapping of the province’s e-tolls needed to follow legislative procedures that required regulation changes through the publishing of a gazette, but that there had been differences between the national and provincial governments over the details.

Two of these differences concerned what to do with the money currently owed by motorists, as well as what to do with motorists who have been diligently paying their e-tolls over the years, wrote BusinessTech.

Other details include the financial and tax implications for the province, and Lesufi said that they are hoping to get it done within the next two weeks before the state of the province address.

Refunding e-tolls

The government ultimately made the decision to refund road users who had been paying their e-tolls, though it has yet to be finalized how this will be done.

“It’s clear we have to refund people. We will refund people who have paid. The outstanding debate is the manner in which they will be refunded,” the premier said.

Currently, the proposal is to either offer a cash refund or to provide road users with credit that they can use to avoid paying other road tolls and services until a balance is reached.

The failed tolling project only had a compliance rate of around 17% meaning that the number of people to be refunded isn’t that large, relatively speaking, but even so, the refund amount is estimated to be roughly R6.9 billion – a not insignificant sum, said Lesufi.

Many of the compliant users are businesses and freight companies, as well as foreigners who preferred the convenience of e-tolls over manual payments.

A decision on the matter will be announced during the state of the province address later this month, said the premier.

Debt problems

It was previously decided that the Gauteng government would be responsible for 30% of the debt amount accumulated by the failed project over the years – translating to about R12 billion.

The province has requested to pay this sum back in instalments, and is currently trying to negotiate for a 20-year payment period to allow for some breathing room, said Lesufi.

A few of the proposed methods of repaying this debt include:

  • Raising licence fees
  • Manually tolling vehicles that enter the province
  • A 3 cents per litre provincial increase in fuel prices

None of these methods have been decided yet, and the premier said that the government would consult with local residents as to the best path forward.

“There are various mechanisms, but we don’t want to commit the same mistake as e-tolls of imposing a transaction without consulting. At the beginning of this year, now, we will be unleashing our consultative process with the people of Gauteng,” said Lesufi.



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