If e-tolls are scrapped, fuel will become even pricier, warns Mantashe

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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe warned that if e-tolls were scrapped, South Africans will pay even more in fuel levies.

E-tolling was first introduced by government in 2011 as a means to fund the R17.9 billion Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. But it has been thwarted by low compliance and large-scale civil disobedience.  

Speaking on the sidelines of South Africa’s bilateral talks with Nigeria, in that country, he said that if e-tolls are scrapped, fuel levies are likely to go up and consumers will pay for that.

This week, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said that a decision on the future of e-tolls will be announced by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana during the budget speech in February 2022.

He said that Treasury is working on the financial implications of abandoning e-tolling.

"And Mbalula, he talks of scrapping the e-tolls, I can tell you, he will go for petrol levies," Mantashe said.

This comes after yet another painful fuel price hike on Wednesday. Motorists are now paying 75c more for a litre of petrol than they did last month, while diesel has increased more than 72c. 

Mantashe says the government cannot intervene and ease the latest petrol hike. 

"There’s nothing we can do, unless we change the formula … it goes up, it goes down," said Mantashe.

The 75c hike is lower than the initial 81c announced by the department of mineral resources and energy (DMRE). The department admitted on Wednesday that it had made an error in its adjustment, citing the adjustment of salaries for service station workers as the reason.

The DMRE said it "profusely apologises" for the error.

Mantashe said the mistake did not affect any consumers since it was picked up before the new price was implemented. 

"It doesn’t matter what it is, if you do mathematical transactions, it [mistakes] happens all the time. There’s no mischief, it’s a mistake, it’s recalculated, it’s discovered, it’s corrected," he said.

- Additional reporting by Penelope Mashego

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