E-tolling is needed to pay for and maintain infrastructure critical to South Africa’s future economic growth, Transport Minister Ben Martins has told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
“The South African economy requires infrastructure to develop and grow, create jobs and to fight the scourge of unemployment and inequality,” Martins said in a speech to the NCOP in Cape Town yesterday.
He was speaking during the debate on the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, which is necessary before e-tolling can take place in Gauteng or anywhere else.
Martins said if the growing budget deficit was allowed to increase, it would be detrimental to the South African economy.
“This reality makes it necessary to find additional sources of funding to assist the fiscus to meet the various demands made on it so that social expenditure can be maintained, and infrastructure projects implemented,” he said.
Infrastructure projects had to be funded through selectively charging road users.
Funding e-tolls through a user charge has enabled the upgrading of 201 kilometres of road in Gauteng which would otherwise would have taken 12 years to fund, he said.
“The National Treasury therefore still makes available funding for the bulk of roads in South Africa, and tolling is used selectively to provide high standard infrastructure.”
Sanral had issued R20 billion in bonds to fund the project, plus capitalised interest of around R3.4 billion which needed to be paid for from e-toll revenue.
The NCOP adopted the bill against objections by opposition parties, the Business Day reported today.