Outa, Cosatu, ANC and other organisations march agaist e-tolls from Burgers Park to Union Building in Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - The government has remained mum on the backlash over e-toll levies on Gauteng’s roads. Amid the rejection of the system by motorists, as well as by the ANC and Cosatu in the province, it remains unclear how the Finance Ministry and the Department of Transport intend to deal with funding the road infrastructure and what alternatives are available if the system is scrapped.

In his mid-term budget speech last month, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said if the public wanted the country’s road network to function, e-tolls had to be paid, adding that the "government remains committed to the user-pay principle”.

Mboweni said the government had successfully partnered with the private sector in the past. “The N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban and the N1/N4 platinum highway were built and are operated and maintained by the private sector. For these projects to operate efficiently, we have service level agreements in place with our private sector partners. These kinds of partnerships will be accelerated.”

On Friday, questions were posed to the Treasury on what this partnership entailed and if he (Mboweni) was willing to engage the irate stakeholders amid the growing resistance, but spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane said the queries had to be directed to the Department of Transport and the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral). These entities managed the partnership.

The march by the ruling party and trade union federation, as well as the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), continues to apply pressure on the government. Outa chief executive Wayne Duvenage earlier said it was “grossly unfair of the government to expect the users of 1% of Sanral’s road network to contribute 34% of Sanral’s revenue”, and described this as a “user abuser scheme”.

Meanwhile, Sanral confirmed that the electronic toll collection operations contract would come to an end next year.

Spokesperson Vusi Mona said 15505 summonses had been issued since the inception of e-tolls until August this year. He also said the current percentage of motorists who had continued to pay their e-tolls stood at 30% and that this had declined over the last two years.

Sanral has also previously labelled comments by DA Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga that the e-toll system was corrupt as false. 

 African News Agency (ANA)