Sanral has already had to transfer money away from its road maintenance budget and put it into servicing e-toll debt, much to the absolute disgust of the public.
Phase Two of the project – which allegedly involves building 158km of new road to redirect traffic and ease congestion – has now been postponed indefinitely while Sanral scrambles for money.
This phase includes building a new highway from Soshanguve in the north to Sandton, a new access road from Soweto to Joburg, the new PWV 15 route to the east to take pressure off the Gillooly’s interchange, and a ring road around the city.
It would create between 12 000 and 16 000 sorely-needed jobs over a four to seven-year period.
Furthermore, newly-instated Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, has also backed the e-toll system. He has stated that, in order for the road networks to function, the e-tolls have to be paid. Because the project was funded through the issuing of bonds, the government has very little choice but to find the money every year to pay back the interest on these borrowings.
South Africa is already a country of sinking ships, with funding being diverted, relayed, re-allocated and syphoned from one project to another, and it simply isn’t sustainable.
The scrapping of the e-tolls, in particular, could also impact SA’s sovereign status and increase the cost of all government-backed borrowings.
This all puts the average South African in an uncomfortable position. Continue the e-toll boycott and watch it crash and burn (which it really, really deserves) or put your trust in a government with a history of corruption and trust it to do the right thing and save the country.
Even Vermaak concedes that it is a tough ask, convincing non-payers to follow his lead.