Cape Town - Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi has told Parliament that roads agency Sanral, which is servicing a R48bn debt, is putting a temporarily halt on constructing three new toll roads in Gauteng.
The debt, Maswanganyi told Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, is due in part to non-payment of e-tolls.
Existing e-tolls are not affected.
Maswanganyi was replying to questions about tolls in the National Assembly.
He said that while e-tolls have shown positive economic spin-offs for Gauteng and South Africa, a campaign of non-payment was cutting down revenues, leaving the roads agency needing to service its debt rather than continue rolling out e-tolls.
“The current debt that is owed to financial institutions by Sanral amounts to R48bn as a result of motorists who are defaulting,” said Maswanganyi. “As we speak, honourable Speaker, we are collecting R65m, instead of R230m.”
“That in itself has a serious impact, as we are spending R2bn from the non-toll portfolio to service this debt.”
The minister accused oppositions MPs, including some from the EFF and the DA, of "encouraging" motorists to default.
He did, however, withdraw a specific comment when he accused the DA's chief whip, John Steenhuisen, of not paying e-tolls. Steenhuisen said he didn't live in Gauteng.
Not a failure
Maswanganyi said that e-tolls could not be considered a failure, as about 1.4 million tagged vehicles were on the roads.
But he added that moves to make three major Gauteng roads into toll roads had been put in hold for the moment.
He told the National Assembly that proposed toll roads PWV 14 - linking the R21 to the M2 and the M3, the PWV 5 - linking Tembisa to Soweto, and PWV 9 - linking the Mabopane Freeway to the R55, had been shelved for now.
“So these were our intentions, but in the current conjunctive there is no way we are going to continue with e-tolling [these roads]. We are not saying that in the future we are not going to e-toll, but for now we have a debt we have to service of R48bn," he said.
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