Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Gauteng provincial government on Thursday welcomed a decision taken by the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) to suspend the pursuit of e-toll debt. 

Sanral on Wednesday said it would stop pursuing historic debt and summonses applied for since 2015, after a request from President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the e-tolls payment impasse.

The decision was celebrated by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, which called it a strong signal that the end was near for the controversial e-tolls. The lobby group said it would await more clarity from Sanral and government.

Gauteng premier David Makhura said the decision represented a decisive shift and opened the door for an amicable and lasting solution regarding the e-tolls debacle. 

"I welcome the decision by Sanral on the suspension of summonses and default judgements against those who are not paying e-tolls," he said in a statement.

"This decision is a result of a decisive intervention by our president and the strongest indication that President Ramaphosa is listening and attending to the concerns of the people of Gauteng on the e-tolls."

Makhura said the e-tolls had been a burden to motorists and had added to the cost of doing business in the province.

"Urban tolling ... is not a viable option and it has never worked anywhere in the world. It is within this context that we stand firm with the residents of Gauteng," province," he said. 

Makhura said the provincial government would continue to work with national government and other relevant stakeholders to explore alternative models of funding highways infrastructure improvements without over-burdening citizens or taxpayers. 

African News Agency/ANA