File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu / Independent Media.

Johannesburg - Sanral’s e-toll collections operator, Electronic Toll Collection (ETC), has called the DA's statements “irresponsible and irrational” after the opposition party called for the scrapping of e-tolls. 

ETC released a statement on Thursday after the DA’s Gauteng leader, Solly Msimanga, told journalists that the ANC had been misleading Gauteng residents about the scrapping of the e-tolls system.

Msimanga said that while the ANC, Gauteng premier David Makhura and the South African Communist Party had marched “against themselves”, calling for the scrapping of e-tolls, they had already granted an extension to ETC to keep on running.

“Instead of being honest we have seen Makhura and the ANC really playing on the emotions of the residents of Gauteng, claiming that e-tolls don’t have a place in Gauteng and that they will be scrapped. In fact [Gauteng ANC chairperson Panyaza] Lesufi said they wouldn’t exist and would go and lobby the president. It has since emerged that while we were listening to the ANC saying that the contract was being scrapped, they had in fact had it renewed,” said Msimanga.

ETC said that “until viable alternatives for using the system have been finalised and agreed on…simply closing down the system will mean the sudden loss of all the technical expertise and cutting-edge infrastructure,” as well as 1300 job losses.

ETC said its contract was renegotiated in April 2017 with Sanral, which saw its eight year operational contract and five year “back office’ contract changed to six years each, adding it made "commercial and operational sense” for the two contracts to be aligned.

”ETC believes it is irresponsible and irrational for political parties like the DA to call for the scrapping of e-tolls until viable alternatives for using the system have been finalised and agreed on. 

"If the system is switched off, it will leave one of the busiest sub-Saharan roads without smart traffic management or maintenance services. The highly advanced, smart system deployed on this e-toll road network is designed to maximise the free flow of traffic and shutting down the system will severely increase traffic congestion in Gauteng,” said the statement.

African News Agency (ANA)