Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/African News Agency (ANA)

PORT ELIZABETH - Weighing in on the e-tolls saga in Gauteng, chairperson of the portfolio committee on Transport Mosebenzi Zwane said on Friday in a statement that they hoped the ministerial intervention would resolve the current impasse "and not fuel further tensions between road users and Sanral".

"The pending ministerial announcement on the future of e-tolls, needed to take to heart the interest of South Africans as well as the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), the chairperson said.

“It clearly is not right that an entity, tasked with such a crucial mandate as maintenance and construction of the roads, is unable to raise money from the market. It surely is not right that Sanral projects are stalled indefinitely, the entity is the heartbeat of the economy,” Zwane said.

“As a society we need to come to agreement on the importance of the work that Sanral does, and accept that it is the kind of work that could not solely be funded from the national fiscus.” 

He said if Sanral were to rely on government funding, the entity would run into the ground and the impact of that would be "too severe to contemplate".

On Friday, Sanral briefed the committee on its annual performance plan where it identified rejection of e-tolls in Gauteng, tolling of national roads, and the failure on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, as having resulted in difficulties in accessing the bond markets.

Zwane said Sanral cannot afford to fail, and that any possible challenge as a result of e-tolls could be averted, especially if leaders took responsibility and not play politics around e-tolls. 

“Continuous road maintenance and improvements is non-negotiable and such work requires that there be no liquidity challenges at Sanral.”

The committee is concluding its week-long visit to all entities administered by the Department of Transport.

African News Agency (ANA)