AA to Mbalula: E-tolls collapsing, can't be saved

Fikile Mbalula.
Fikile Mbalula.

The Automobile Association has told Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula in an open letter that its research into road funding found "the current model for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project has failed, and will continue to fail" if it is pursued further.

The association says it canvassed the views of Gauteng motorists who were being asked to pay the e-toll, which was put in place to pay for the nearly R18bn improvements to freeways in South Africa’s richest province.

Government implemented the user pays principle as a mechanism to fund these road improvements, while civil society groups such as the Organisation Against Tax Abuse (OUTA, formerly known as the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance) led the resistance to what it called an unjust tax.

The Department of Transport has had to allocate billions in recent years to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to make up for non-compliance to the toll. Mbalula has pledged, like other transport ministers before him, to find a solution to the e-toll dilemma.

'People will not pay'

"The research indicates that people will not pay under the current conditions, and that debt is not a factor in these decisions. The findings highlight explicitly that most users are not paying because of a principled position taken years ago and that no amount of cajoling or enticement will change their minds," the letter read.

The open letter said confusion on whether toll bills would be aggressively pursued or not "continues to exacerbate an already heavily-indebted system".

"Through the research we reviewed the road funding models of other countries, and our own previous comments on e-tolls. We have concluded, as we did when the GFIP funding model was first proposed, that the only fair, feasible, and effective method of collection remains linking it to the General Fuel Levy," the letter said.

The AA said its research found that just over 50% of motorists believed nothing would convince them to pay e-tolls. In the AA's view, ring-fencing an amount from the Gauteng fuel levy would alleviate many problems currently experienced in the system and immediately impact the GFIP.

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said he was "very unhappy" with the Sanral board's decision to temporarily suspend summonses to recover e-toll debt. At the time, Sanral said its management and government were working together to find a resolution to the impasse on e-toll debt payments.

ZAR/USD
17.27
(+0.45)
ZAR/GBP
22.60
(+0.42)
ZAR/EUR
20.41
(+0.44)
ZAR/AUD
12.42
(+0.21)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.53)
Gold
2034.10
(+0.24)
Silver
26.51
(+1.34)
Platinum
947.84
(+1.77)
Brent Crude
44.34
(+0.63)
Palladium
2157.96
(+1.43)
All Share
57349.57
(+1.96)
Top 40
52982.65
(+1.99)
Financial 15
9928.34
(+0.50)
Industrial 25
75907.24
(+1.29)
Resource 10
59205.12
(+3.27)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Do you think it was a good idea for the government to approach the IMF for a $4.3 billion loan to fight Covid-19?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes. We need the money.
11% - 847 votes
It depends on how the funds are used.
74% - 5642 votes
No. We should have gotten the loan elsewhere.
15% - 1125 votes
Vote