Fate of e-tolls still unclear as Mbalula delays decision again
Transport minister says his department is working closely with the Treasury to finalise outstanding matters relating to the unpopular road toll
Motorists who use Gauteng roads will have to wait even longer to hear a final decision on the future of e-tolls.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has still not announced a decision on this despite a promise to do so in May 2021.
In his budget speech delivered to parliament on Wednesday, Mbalula told MPs that his department was working closely with finance minister Enoch Godongwana to finalise outstanding matters relating to e-tolls.
In his budget, he said, R2.1bn was specifically allocated due to reduced tariffs for the Gauteng freeway improvement project.
Residents and motorists have boycotted e-toll payments in their thousands, with many opting not to buy the e-tag that allows the state to electronically collect toll fees.
Since 2019, Mbalula and Gauteng premier David Makhura have been promising an imminent announcement on the way forward with e-tolls but it has not happened.
“We are alive to the adverse impact the delay in making the final decision on e-tolls has on the Sanral balance sheet and its ability to raise capital for its catalytic projects. This is a matter cabinet has on its radar and a pronouncement will be made once the final decision has been taken,” said Mbalula.
He had, however, made a similar promise to the National Council of Provinces in May 2021.
At the time, during a question-and-answer session a few weeks before his budget speech, Mbalula said an announcement on the matter would be made in two weeks and had said the announcement would be made before his budget speech.
“It has taken longer than we would have liked. We thought by now we would have finalised but unfortunately it’s a big decision. We are not working alone. We go back and forth with Treasury on these issues, and that’s how it is,” Mbalula said in May 2021.
The long, drawn-out saga had seen Makhura and then finance minister Tito Mboweni clash over public statements by the former minister railing against nonpayment of e-tolls.
At the time, Mboweni told journalists at a press conference linked to his medium-term budget that e-tolls are not going anywhere.
“People must appreciate the service provided and just like they go to Pick n Pay to buy bread, they will pay for the use of this service,” Mboweni said then.