Outa welcomes minister’s pronouncement on e-tolls as a win for motorists

The N12 gantry at The Glen towards Alberton. Sanral e-toll 051114. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

The N12 gantry at The Glen towards Alberton. Sanral e-toll 051114. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Published Oct 27, 2022


Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s pronouncement on e-tolls on Wednesday has been hailed as a win for one of the biggest civil disobedience campaigns by Gauteng’s motorists, many of whom refused to pay their e-tolls bills for more than 10 years.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), which has been at the forefront of the fight against e-tolls, has reacted to the news that e-tolls could be scrapped.

This is after Godongwana, during his mid-term budget policy statement (MTBPS), announced bills to transfer R23.736 billion from the national government to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) which will pay off government-guaranteed debt as part of a conditional solution to phase one of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

The minister announced that, in addition, Sanral would get another R3.740bn to be moved from non-toll roads to the GFIP roads, which runs through the Transport vote.

The CEO of Outa, Wayne Duvenage, said this pronouncement effectively meant the end of e-tolls as we know them.

“This is a clear indication to Outa that the e-tolling of the Gauteng freeways will be halted, and the funding mechanism has been shifted to national Treasury and Gauteng provincial government allocations, a solution that Outa proposed to government over a decade ago,” Duvenage said.

He said the funding solution announced in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) by Godongwana sought to resolve the funding impasse, adding that the minister might announce the total scrapping of e-tolls soon.

“Outa believes that the MTBPS has signalled that Sanral’s pressure to finance the government guaranteed GFIP bonds through the failed e-toll scheme is now over.

“There is no need for the Department of Transport or Sanral to continue with the declaration of the Gauteng freeways as tolled roads. Accordingly, we believe the minister will be making an announcement to put paid to the e-toll scheme in the next week or so,” Duvenage said.

Over the past decade the civil action movement has fought tooth and nail to see the back of e-tolls through litigation, protests and disobedience campaigns.

Duvenage added that resistance by citizens to paying e-tolls was one of the most successful civil disobedience campaigns in post-apartheid South Africa and this was something to celebrate.

“Outa has fought for over a decade to bring an end to the failed e-toll scheme, which was a battle fought through courts, through official inquiries, across social media, in protests on bridges and outside government offices, through millions of unpaid e-toll bills and the defence by Outa of thousands of summonses by Sanral chasing debt.

“Ultimately, the people have won on the decision that government will finance the Gauteng freeway upgrade undertaken between 2008 and 2012, through the united action of hundreds of thousands of motorists in a well-co-ordinated and peaceful civil disobedience campaign of non-payment for the irrational expensive scheme,” he said.

For over 10 years, ministers, premiers, mayors and political leaders had failed to resolve the e-toll matter, he said, adding that the scheme had tried to secure 30% of Sanral’s revenue from 1% of Sanral’s road network.

“The e-toll saga has been a stern lesson for government, on the topic of meaningful public participation, and the need to take public input seriously, if policies and laws are to be respected,” Duvenage said.

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