E-toll gantries on the N1 through Johannesburg. File photo: Jeffrey Abrahams / ANA

Johannesburg - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse says it hopes the South African National Roads Agency Limited’s admission that the fuel levy might be a better option than e-tolls is an indication that sanity is beginning to prevail.

However, it accuses the agency of sending out mixed signals to the motoring public with reports in the media that Sanral acknowledges the e-toll scheme’s failure and is coming to a realisation that the fuel levy may be the best solution to its road infrastructure funding crisis - while at the same time renewing its efforts to collect outstanding e-tolls.

Outa chief operating officer Ben Theron said: “Sanral says its financial solution lies in the hands of government, but it was Sanral that convinced government to adopt this irrational scheme - and now turns to the treasury to bail it out of the mess it has made.”

When the Gauteng freeway upgrade plan was being introduced in 2007, it was proposed that the freeway upgrade bonds be financed by way of a nine to 10 percent increase in the fuel levy. That way, said Theron, the bonds would have been almost settled by now.

Confusing

But what was making matters more confusing for the motoring public, said Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage, was Sanral’s insistence on an expensive litigation process against motorists who don’t pay e-tolls.

“How can Sanral say in one breath that the scheme has virtually collapsed and that a new financing solution should be introduced,” he asked,  “then want to sue people for not supporting the scheme which was literally stillborn from the start.

“It’s time for government to pull the plug on the failed e-toll scheme, cancel the costly collection contracts - that have almost completed their five-year period anyway - and raise the revenue from the treasury via the fuel levy, which has been the funding mechanism used by government for road infrastructure for many decades.”

IOL Motoring
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