CAPE TOWN – Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday, for the umpteenth time, that the decision on the e-tolls in Gauteng was imminent.
Delivering his budget vote in the National Assembly, Mbalula said they had been working closely with the Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to finalise outstanding matters. This, he said, would enable the final determination by Cabinet on the funding of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), better known as e-tolls.
“We are alive to the adverse impact the delay in making the final decision on e-tolls has on the Sanral balance sheet and its ability to raise capital for its catalytic projects.
“This is a matter Cabinet has on its radar and a pronouncement will be made once the final decision has been taken,” he said.
“I can report that the decision is imminent albeit it took us a long time,” Mbalula said.
The minister said Sanral has been allocated R76.4 billion and R45.3 billion was budgeted to upgrade, strengthen and refurbish the national non‐toll roads network.
While the parties did not bother to comment on the now broken- record promise on e-tolls, they raised concern with the use of consultants.
DA MP Chris Hunsinger said this year’s budget was no different to any from previous years, resembling a copy and paste edition.
EFF MP Noluthando Nolutshungu said the department should build its internal capacity in order to prevent wastage on use of consultants.
She said the use of R250m in the last financial year was an unnecessary waste of the public funds.
ANC MP Mosebenzi Zwane did not spare any favours, saying it was critical that the department fill vacant posts and build its internal capacity.
“It is critical that the department monitors implementation of programme by entities. This budget should bring relief to our poor state of roads especially the provincial and local roads as witnessed by the committee on its oversight visits in Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal recently,” Zwane said.
ACDP’s Kenneth Meshoe said his party had serious concerns with spending on consultants which had increased by 73.3%.
“A budget of R3.5m was spent on consultants last year and this year a budget of R13.1m has been allocated. We believe that this is wasting money that should make sure our roads are right for safe travelling,” Meshoe said.
Mbalula also said the maintenance of provincial and municipal roads remained one of their biggest challenges.
“Despite these provisions, the national sphere of government has a responsibility to ensure that these roads are managed within a framework of national norms and standards to maximise their role in enabling economic activity and access to social amenities.”