Mbalula: We are aware SA wants e-tolls scrapped, solution being sought

Residents of Gauteng will have to wait until the end of August before they know exactly what the future of the province's controversial e-tolls project will be.

On Tuesday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said during his portfolio's budget vote debate in Parliament that the government was aware of the overwhelming demand for the project to be scrapped, but that debt obligations complicated the situation.

"Fellow South Africans, we are seized with the process to find a lasting solution to the demand to scrap e-tolls in Gauteng.

"A task team was established - made up of the Department of Transport, SANRAL, the Gauteng province and National Treasury - to look decisively at all relevant issues and make firm recommendations.

"The process of engagement [is] ongoing and various options toward the resolution of this challenge are being processed by the team. The options being considered also include the feasibility of a mechanism through which the debt incurred in the construction of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project can be paid."

Mbalula said the team was working to ensure that a final report on the matter would be tabled before President Cyril Ramaphosa by the end of August 2019.

"We are mindful of the demand to scrap e-tolls and are therefore looking at solutions that will balance this demand with the need for the country to honour its obligation in so far as the e-toll debt is concerned.

"This is the reality we must all be alive to," Mbalula concluded.

Fin24 recently reported that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and the Gauteng provincial legislature were at odds when it came to e-tolls, and this could compromise revenue allocations to the province.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura, in his State of the Province Address, said e-tolls would be scrapped. The resolution was initially taken at the Gauteng ANC conference in July 2018, News24 reported.

But the minister of finance was not having any of it. Mboweni took to Twitter to express views that users of e-tolls must pay. Mboweni tweeted: "I don't know why the middle and upper classes in Gauteng want to complicate our lives. The working class do not pay e-tolls!! Public transport! Hello…"

The spat escalated on Twitter prompting Ramaphosa to intervene, Fin24 reported.

The Presidency issued a statement indicating that Ramaphosa had mandated Mbalula, Mboweni and Makhura to submit to Cabinet a solution for the e-toll system in Gauteng.

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