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Wednesday / 22 May 2024
HomeNewsBig deadline for e-tolls this June

Big deadline for e-tolls this June

Late 2022, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) signed an extension to the e-toll collections contract with the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) agency, which is wholly owned by Austria’s Kapsch TrafficCom, that is due to run out in “mid-June” 2023, said Wayne Duvenage, CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Outa believes that the state-owned agency agreed to this extension after announcing in October last year that the controversial tolling scheme would be shut down by 31 December 2022.

Now, there is a concern that another extension is going to be, or has already been, signed, which will see Sanral commit to irregular and unnecessary expenses.

“The extension to mid-June indicates that another extension may be imminent if not already signed, which Outa believes is a waste of money,” said Duvenage.

Outa is now waiting on Kapsch to release its statements for the 2022/2023 financial year, which is expected to reveal whether or not an extension beyond June 2023 has, in fact, been agreed upon. The previous two extensions, which both took place in 2022, were only alluded to in Kapsch’s financial records and not made public by Sanral.

It is unclear whether an additional extension will result in e-tolls remaining active until the new agreement has expired.

In its financial statement for the first half of the 2022/2023 period, Kapsch said “It is currently uncertain how the decision to no longer collect tolls in Gauteng will affect us in the medium term… In South Africa, we expect the province of Gauteng to announce soon how it intends to proceed with the toll system.”

Dashed hopes

On 26 October 2022, minister of finance Enoch Godongwana made headlines when he announced the end of e-tolls in his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).

The minister revealed that the Gauteng provincial government and national government collectively agreed to contribute 30% and 70%, respectively, to service Sanral’s debts.

The national government proceeded to allocate R23.74 billion to Sanral to pay off government-guaranteed debt and moved another R3.74 billion from the non-toll road to the GFIP ledger within the Sanral budget.

However, despite these actions, the “government has failed to formally end e-tolls or explain the debt situation,” said Duvenage.

Well over seven months after the MTBPS, neither Sanral nor the Gauteng authorities have made inroads in switching off e-tolls or refunding motorists. Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi said the allocation of funds for repayment to compliant users is one of the major roadblocks standing in the way of the entire system’s shutdown.

All the while, motorists are continually being billed by the e-toll scheme and certain businesses continue to pay.

“Government promised that by the end of 2022 – nearly six months ago – the end of e-tolls would be finalised. Here we are in June 2023: nothing has changed. Government’s inability to implement its own decisions is at play here. We’ve seen this before, a lot is said and nothing is done,” said Duvenage.

“We call on government to implement the decision they’ve made, once and for all, so we can bring this debacle to an end.”

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