Gauteng’s controversial electronic toll collection process, otherwise known as e-tolls, are “history,” according to the provincial Premier Panyaza Lesufi.
The Premier recently spoke at the 2023 South Africa Auto Week held by Naamsa at Kyalami, where he said that the final tasks were underway to shut down the tolling system, but that the national government was preventing him from signing off on the process, according to Moneyweb.
“I want to repeat it here, e-tolls in Gauteng are history. We are finalizing the remaining tasks and we will be in a position to share them with you,” he said.
However, motorists are still being billed by the overhead gantries, which are expected to remain in place until at least the end of the year.
A year of delays
It has been over a year since South African Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that Gauteng’s e-toll programme would be brought to an end, and yet road users are still being charged to this day.
The highway gantries were supposed to be shut down on the 31st of December 2022, as the provincial government had allegedly found another method to fund the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) – the project that e-tolls were intended to finance.
Despite these claims, the system is still operational, and numerous explanations have been provided for the delays.
One of the key issues surrounding e-tolls is the matter of its outstanding debt and who will be responsible for it – a debate that ultimately led to the provincial government being allocated 30% of the tab, while the national government would be responsible for the remaining 70%.
Another issue has to do with the tolling scheme’s compliant and non-compliant motorists, as Premier Lesufi announced at the start of the year that users who had diligently paid their fees would be refunded.
This quickly led to a response from other organizations like the Inclusive Society Institute (ISI), which claimed that boycotting road users should still be expected to pay what they owe as it is not equitable to those who have complied with the system all this time.
These matters were recently brought to attention by the Finance Minister during a parliamentary Q&A, where he said that e-tolls would only be turned off once the national and provincial governments had signed a binding agreement regarding the debt, maintenance, and administrative costs of shutting down the electronic tolls.
You still have to pay
According to Godongwana, a binding agreement will only be reached once the province clarifies its position on how it will recover funds from defaulting users who have not paid their outstanding fees.
This means that Gauteng road users will likely be expected to settle their debts before the scheme is decommissioned – a debt that will only continue to grow for the next few months.
This is because Sanral previously confirmed to TopAuto that it had renewed its contract with the Electronic Toll Collection agency, which is responsible for recovering funds from motorists.
Sanral previously reported an extension to its e-toll contract in late 2022 which brought the new expiry date to June 2023. However, the road agency has since moved the deadline to December, meaning that the region’s motorists will be expected to pay for a whole year’s worth of additional e-tolls past their initially proposed scrap date of 31 December 2022.