E-Tolls To Be Scrapped For Good!

The ANC has confirmed plans to scrap the e-tolls for good. But is there any truth to this, or is it just another election gimmick?
Jason Snyman
2018-07-31

Last week, the African National Congress confirmed that it is taking active steps toward reviewing the controversial e-toll system in Gauteng. Rumour has it, they’re planning on finally cutting their losses and scrapping the e-tolls for good.

According to the DA, however, the ANCs resolution to scrap the e-toll system could be nothing but bluster and that in reality, no action will be taken. The DAs Senior Media Issues Specialist in Gauteng, Warren Gwilt, has called the announcement an election gimmick.
 

This is what happened in 2014 when David Makhura became premier but, instead, they reduced the fees only to raise them the following year. This is only an election ploy because they realised that next year it is elections.

One thing remains for sure. Even if the ‘new dawn’ ANC is opposed to the e-toll system, they will find it no easy task to exorcise this devil they’ve created. 

Wake Up And Smell The Public Disdain

Speaking with Radio 702’s Karima Brown on the 23rd of July, newly elected deputy chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, inferred that the ANC, as if rousing from a decade-long state of deliria, had only just realised that the whole of South Africa absolutely hates the e-toll system.

Took them a while.

The ANC has been advised on numerous occasions, by many people, that the e-toll system is in dire need of a complete overhaul. Lesufi said that, following recent conference talks, the Gauteng ANC plans to publish its formal stance on the situation sometime in August 2018.
 

The conference has taken a very firm decision to ensure that e-tolls are terminated immediately,” he said. “We just need to put a mechanism in place to realise this decision.

When asked how Gauteng’s roads will be funded or maintained going forward, Lesufi dodged the question.
 

The reality is these e-tolls are unpopular with our people and as a popular movement, how do we go the opposite direction of that particular feeling? “We have taken a decision, let those e-tolls be terminated, and let the team that will manage this process engage on those modalities to check the costs, the running and all other related matters.

A special task team will reportedly be set up to ensure the resolution becomes a reality.
 

What Will Become Of The Gantries?

There have been discussions around the painful logistics behind scrapping the failed e-toll system. Notably, what will become of the gantries left standing there along the highways? These grand, overpriced monuments to government incompetence.  

Some proposals floating around included the continued use of the gantries to aid in the fight against crime. So, a surveillance system then.
 

The majority of crime activities in our province involve a motor vehicle – either it is hijacked or stolen and used in a separate crime,” said Lesufi. “The argument is instead of using a ‘stone-age’, we should engrave the number plates so that gantries can read them, and if the car is stolen it can be tracked.

Alternatively, they could also be used to monitor the flow of traffic.  

Scrapping The E-Tolls – OUTA Responds

OUTA – the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse – has welcomed the announcement. The organisation has been vocal in opposing the e-tolls since 2012, stating that they were too much of a financial burden on motorists and commuters.  

OUTA has previously written extensive reports on why the e-toll scheme would fail and recently delivered a comprehensive report to the presidency and the ministers of the economic cluster‚ showing that e-tolls have failed and it now costs Sanral more to collect outstanding e-toll fees than it ultimately collects from motorists.

According to OUTA, only around 29% of motorists are actually paying their e-toll accounts. Gauteng motorists just aren’t willing to comply with this charade. A report by Business Tech revealed that Sanral (South African National Roads Agency) was drowning in R9.2 billion worth of debt at the time of writing, accrued only from unpaid motorist bills. That amount is growing by a ridiculous R230 million every month.

During the 2017/18 financial year, Sanral collected only R725 million of the R2.7 billion invoiced.

Meanwhile, administration costs related to the collection of these fees amounted to around R650 million. This is excluding any of Sanral’s legal expenses or the costs of summonses issued.

Another fine display of financial ineptitude.

OUTA has referred to the e-toll system as an ‘illegitimate scheme’ and has called upon David Makhura, the Gauteng premier, to walk the talk and pressurise the government into scrapping the system and withdraw all pending legal action against motorists who have rebelled against it.