Gauteng to take over e-tolls after Sanral debt deal
The Gauteng government will decide what to do with e-tolls after agreeing with a National Treasury proposal to cover 30% of the R47bn debt roads agency Sanral incurred as a result of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).
Speaking at the tabling of his medium-term budget policy statement, finance minister Enoch Godongwana said to help settle its e-toll debt, Sanral would receive R23.7bn this financial year and the rest next year.
Sanral has long struggled to collect e-tolls as Gauteng motorists, supported by political and civil society bodies, continue to reject a system they regard as a form of additional tax.
The Treasury will settle the remaining 70% and Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi’s government will be allowed to decide what happens to e-toll gantries. It will also be responsible for the maintenance of the province’s 201km freeway network.
Godongwana said it was time to settle the protracted dispute.
“For the past seven years we’ve been dilly-dallying on this issue, which has impacted negatively on Sanral’s balance sheet. Therefore we’ve come to the conclusion that we have to close this matter once and for all,” he said at a press briefing before addressing parliament.
Asked if the e-toll gantries will be removed, Godongwana said it was Lesufi's government's decision.
“If they decide to remove [the gantries], it’s their business. If they decide to collect [tolls] ... it’s their own business.”
He said the GFIP was never a national government issue, but the state took it over as the province was struggling to complete the project before the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
“Sanral’s problem has been [political] because everybody mobilised that people must not pay.”
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