Transport Minister Blade Nzimande speaks after casting his vote in South Africa's May 8 elections. Photo: Tamaryn Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said on Wednesday that it was not clear what route the government would take with controversial e-tolls in Gauteng after yesterday’s national election.

Nzimande said the unpopular e-tolls, which many Gauteng residents have refused to pay, had not been a key issue ahead of the polls.

“We are jumping too much ahead. I have no idea what the Cabinet is going to look like, but what I think one of the priorities of (the department of) transport is that we have to finalise this issue of e-tolls one way or the other,” Nzimande said after casting his vote in Johannesburg.

He said the fundamental question facing South Africa was “how do we fund our road networks, who pays for the road networks.”

“At the heart of the e-toll debate it’s about that - is it the government or is it the users?” Nzimande said.

“The government has adopted a mixed approach to say that it is going to put up an infrastructure and some of that infrastructure will have to be paid for by the users.”

The transport minister said that South Africa had some of the best highways not just on the continent but in the world, and needed to find ways of sustaining them and building more. “Where do we get the resources to do it, and that is a much bigger and a much more serious and substantive debate we need to have.”

Nzimande said the e-tolls were not a key campaign topic in the run-up to the elections.

“I was campaigning here in Gauteng and what are people crying about? In Alexandra, they are not crying about e-tolls, they are crying about development, housing, about provision of basic services that are actually needed,” he said.

“I am not saying the issue of e-tolls must not be addressed but it was not a big election issue.” 

African News Agency (ANA)