No decision on e-tolls yet, says Mbalula - after Gauteng MEC says system was being scrapped

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There has been no final decision on the scrapping of e-tolls, the Ministry of Transport has said.
There has been no final decision on the scrapping of e-tolls, the Ministry of Transport has said.
Halden Krog / The Times / Gallo images
  • On Thursday, Gauteng MEC for Public Transport and Road Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo said that the e-tolls system was being scrapped, but later backtracked on his statement.
  • The Ministry of Transport nor Cabinet has made a final decision on the matter.
  • During a Cabinet briefing, Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that Mamabolo was communicating Gauteng's position on the matter, which is already known.

There has been no final decision on the scrapping of e-tolls, the Ministry of Transport has said.

Fikile Mbalula's ministry on Thursday issued a statement, clarifying the status of the process in resolving the e-toll saga. This comes after Gauteng MEC of Public Transport and Road Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo said during an interview earlier on Thursday that e-tolls would be scrapped.

Mamabolo told SAfm’s Stephen Grootes that "we are already living in a post e-toll period".

"We are just waiting for... formalisation."

He said that government ministers previously talked about "good news" with regards to e-tolls. "'Imminent' and 'good news' to us already mean we are already looking to a completely new e-toll dispensation.

"There's no turning back on e-tolls.

"They're being scrapped. The people of Gauteng should not be burdened with paying for national roads that serve all of us, that serve neighbouring states … That is unfair to the people for Gauteng. We have got a lot of toll roads here already," he said. 

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport later issued a statement indicating the province is waiting for an "imminent announcement" by national government on the matter. "As we look forward to the announcement by national government, we reaffirm our view that the e-tolling system in its current form burdens Gauteng residents on a matter that involves the national economy and the economies of neighbouring states.

'No decision made ... yet'

"As we anxiously wait for the decision, the provincial government believes that it has put forward a compelling argument for the scrapping of e-tolls," Mamabolo said. 

In a separate statement, the Ministry of Transport said that "no decision has been made" regarding the future of e-tolls. 

"At the moment, the Ministry of Transport is seized with the responsibility of ensuring that beyond a determination of whether the e-tolls are scrapped or not, proper decisions are made with regard to how road infrastructure rollout and maintenance in this country will be financed," the statement read. The ministry said an announcement will be made once the matter is finalised.

During a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that the MEC was communicating the position of Gauteng, which is not new as it has been lobbying national government for the scrapping of e-tolls.

"There is no decision of Cabinet as we speak today around the scrapping of e-tolls or the non-scrapping of e-tolls," said Ntshavheni.

"The minister of transport continues to engage with all the parties that are relevant - the National Treasury, the Gauteng government - and continues to update the Cabinet on the progress of such engagements and various proposals," she said.

The South African government introduced e-tolls in 2013 to pay for the upgrade of 187km freeways in Gauteng.

The system makes use of electronic scanners to register vehicles' number plates and sends drivers a bill for the distance travelled on the upgraded roads. 

Users can also opt to have an electronic tag (e-tag) where they’d qualify for discounts, and the amount would automatically be credited from their bank accounts. 

The project was, however, met with widespread criticism and noncompliance. 

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