A file picture of Cavey Parker, 68, who stood on a bridge protesting against e-tolls earlier this year. Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi says the government has a massive e-toll debt because motorists refuse to pay. Picture: ANA Archives

Pretoria - Government is struggling to repay the multi-billion rand debt owed to banks for the e-tolls, with R2 billion taken from the fiscus used to cover the repayment. As a result it is looking at various options to repay the debt following the low collection rate, which impacts on the debt repayment.

The use of the fuel levy could be one of the options on the cards, but that will be decided by the cabinet later.

This was the reply by Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi in Parliament on Wednesday. He was being questioned by MPs on the e-tolls.

Maswanganyi said they were concerned that so few motorists were paying e-tolls.

He said this had impacted on the repayment of the R48bn debt to the financial institutions.

The repayment of the debt depends on motorists paying e-tolls but the boycott has hit the government in the pocket.

“In regard to the debt repayment, we owe R48bn to the lenders.

“We are using R2bn from our fiscus because we are not able to collect enough money,” said Maswanganyi.

He said that despite the programmes of government to encourage motorists to pay e-tolls, they were falling short of the required funds.

He said instead of collecting the projected R230 million in e-tolls, the government had collected R65m.

This was a shortfall of R165m required to be collected from motorists.

The implementation of the e-tolls has been strongly criticised from across the party lines in Parliament and civil society.

Maswanganyi said there were other roads they wanted to toll in Gauteng, but could not do so because of the boycott of the current tolled roads.

The roads that were earmarked to be tolled were the PWV5 linking Tembisa with Soweto and the PWV9 in Mabopane.

However, in April this year, Gauteng officials said the two roads would not be tolled.

This followed a multi-billion rand upgrade of these roads in the province.

Maswanganyi said that in the current conjecture, it would not be possible to toll the roads in the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

He added that they needed to service the R48bn debt to the financial institutions.

The issue of e-tolls has dogged government over the last three years with intervention measures introduced which included the reduction of the toll fees, as well as advertisements in the mass media.

But opposition MPs told Maswanganyi the government would have to scrap e-tolls because the public did not want them.

However, the minister said this would not be done.

The DA and EFF said e-tolls had to go as they added no value to the road infrastructure programme.

Pretoria News