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Mamabolo backtracks on premature announcement about scrapping of e-tolls

Gauteng Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo is believed to have made a premature announcement on the radio that e-tolls would be scrapped. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo is believed to have made a premature announcement on the radio that e-tolls would be scrapped. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 28, 2021

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The Gauteng government awaits the final decision on the scrapping of the controversial e-toll system.

This follows a premature announcement by Gauteng Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo on SAfm on Thursday that e-tolls would be scrapped.

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However, Mamabolo later issued a statement clarifying the issue and stating that his comments on the matter were distorted in the SAfm report, which construed him to mean that e-tolls had been scrapped.

In the interview, Mamabolo was heard saying: “They’ve been scrapped. The people of Gauteng should not be burdened with paying for national roads that serve all of us, that serve neighbouring states, that serve the whole economy of our country … that is unfair to leave it to the people of Gauteng.”

Further elaborating on the comments he had made earlier, Mamabolo said the provincial government had been tasked with the e-toll matter with a view to opposing its implementation in the province.

He added that the provincial government was now eagerly awaiting the announcement by the national government on the future of e-tolls.

The Cabinet also reiterated that only the national government could scrap the system.

“As we look forward to the announcement by the national government, we reaffirm our view that the e-tolling system in its current form burdens Gauteng residents on a matter that involves the national economy and the economies of neighbouring states.

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“As we anxiously wait for the decision, the provincial government believes that it has put forward a compelling argument for the scrapping of e-tolls.”

Mamabolo added that the provincial government has been working with the national government to ensure the implementation of the e-toll system in Gauteng is halted.

He also maintained that he had been engaging in consultations with Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula since November 2020 on the provincial government’s rejection of the proposed implementation of Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) regulations as another method of enforcing the e-tolling system.

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Mbalula, responding to the reports, said: “No decision yet on the future of the e-tolls. We are of the view that the MEC has made it quite clear that what he articulated during the interview is a provincial position of Gauteng, which is not a new matter at all.”

Mbalula, in a letter, said their understanding was that (it was) the position which Gauteng was lobbying the national government to adopt on e-tolls and they respected that.

Political analyst Xolani Dube said Mbalula was supposed to make a decision in two weeks but he failed to do so.

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“I think there is incompetence in the government; they failed to take a decision. We are in the third or fourth week, we wonder who makes decisions in this country. The letter by Mbalula affirms that the status quo on e-tolls is still intact and no decision has been made. This letter shows that there is a serious confusion from the government. Someone is making decisions on behalf of the country,” said Dube.

He said people must track carefully, as the country draws closer to elections.

Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) chief executive Wayne Duvenage said he welcomed the initial statement by the MEC, but said the organisation awaited confirmation via the right channels before celebrating the news.

“If true, it would mean a massive win for Outa and all Gauteng motorists who defied the system,” Duvenage said.

He said there are many other decisions that will need to be taken and executed, eg the cancellation of contracts with ETC, which collects e-tolls from motorists, and amendments to the Sanral act. Unpaid e-toll debt will also have to be written off without further threats to prosecute non-payers.”

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the Cabinet was still considering the possibility of what should happen with the Gauteng e-tolls given the financial commitments made during the provincial road improvement programme.

FF Plus national chairperson advocate Anton Alberts said they condemn the misleading statements by the MEC.

“These statements are simply opportunistic attempts by the Gauteng ANC to regain some of the support it had lost. It is no secret that the e-toll system has caused ANC support in Gauteng to wane.

“The FF Plus finds it problematic that the Gauteng ANC government keeps taking a stance against the e-toll system and is creating the impression everywhere that e-toll will be abolished, while the national government is obviously not of the same opinion,” said Alberts.

The Good Party said with no real resolution in sight, the ANC is determined to milk the issue.

The Star

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