Sanral has posted a loss of almost R5 billion for the 2016/2017 financial year. File photo: Denis Farrell / AP
Johannesburg - The South African National Roads Agency Limited has allegedly cancelled e-toll debts older than three years and reportedly written off R3.6 billion in the 2017 financial year relating to this debt.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse claims the roads agency has thrown in the towel over e-toll debts older than three years as a great number of motorists continue to boycott paying the e-tolls on Gauteng’s refurbished roads.

But Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said: “Sanral will continue to make every effort to collect what is due. The difficulties in collecting e-tolls, as outlined by Outa, is a self-fulfilling prophecy as far as Outa is concerned."

Outa said Sanral's financial statements provided a clear signal that the state-owned entity acknowledged it was finding collecting the Gauteng e-toll debt difficult.

Financial woes 

According to Outa, Sanral was likely to require increased funding from an already overstretched National Treasury, as the investment houses were absent at Sanral’s bond auctions.

Outa spokesman John Clarke said: “The most telling sign of Sanral’s financial woes is the increased loss for the 2016/17 year, at just under R5 billion, substantively up from the loss of R1.2 billion posted in 2016 and with the bulk of the loss (about R4.6 billion) arising from the toll operations.

“Sanral records impairment losses of R3.6 billion for e-toll debts that were effectively written off, compared to R92 million in 2015/16,” said Clarke.

'Uncollectable'

Outa transport portfolio manager Rudie Heyneke said: “It is the treatment of the outstanding e-toll debt when compared to last year that illustrates that Sanral is starting to face e-toll reality.

“Last year, virtually no outstanding debt was written off, as Sanral had pinned its hopes on the 60 percent discount dispensation gaining traction during the following financial period.

"This year, the massive R3.6 billion e-toll impairment loss is a significant acknowledgement that the e-toll debt is uncollectable,” said Heyneke.

'In-depth revision required'

He said the impairment of the outstanding debt, combined with operating losses, was a strong indicator that Sanral’s leadership, together with the minister of transport, must make an in-depth revision of their e-toll policy.

in October Sanral sent out text messages to motorists to pay their overdue e-toll accounts.

Mona said yesterday: "The low collection rate on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project is concerning, and the board has requested the shareholder (the minister of transport) to address the impact of the poor collection rate with the cabinet to ensure the sustainability of Sanral.”

The Star