Valerie Mmanthe Mampshika,[Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English].
The National Treasury has suggested to reserve R23.7 billion from the national budget to settle the South African National Roads Agency’s (SANRAL) debt and deal with E-Tolls which are nearing a duration of a decade.The Gauteng provincial government led by Mr Panyaza Lesufi has agreed to contribute 30% to settle Sanral’s debt and interest obligations, while the National government will cover 70% of the debt.
During the latest Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS),the current finance minister Mr Enoch Godongwana delivered a speech which stipulates that the uncertainty encircling the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, with the inclusion of E-tolls, continues to have a huge impact for road construction in the nation.
Godongwana announced that South Africa’s road network must be brought back up to be efficient and functional once again,since the government has detected that for nine years, E-tolls have been met with resistance from motorists which led to no payments by numerous motorists,and calls have been made to scrap the entire system.
Funny enough motorists prefer to pay for toll gates on safe roads when they travel for long distances to provinces such as Kwa-Zulu Natal,Limpopo,and Mpumalanga to name a few,and unluckily the toll gates also increase annually.
Those who cannot afford the current hefty prices of toll gates will resort to using unsafe roads to reach their destinations and to avoid paying an estimation of more than R500 for 2 trips(going and coming back).
Opposition associations such as Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance(DA), have called for the removal of the system.
Godongwana added that any additional investment in the road network would still have to be funded, and the final decision will be made by the Gauteng provincial government.
The funding has numerous conditions,one of the conditions being a solution to phase 1 of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project being discovered by effectively shifting where E-tolling goes from here back to the transport department and Gauteng government.
In addition the finance minister declared that the National Treasury is drafting a Special Appropriation Bill to provide additional funding to the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) to ensure that their business model is adjusted and restored for the future,after SANRAL reported that it has been relying on government grants to fulfil its mandate for over three years.
To close it off,Lesufi as the Gauteng Premier responded to the announcement by welcoming the finalisation of the E-toll saga, and that his administration would discuss with SANRAL on how to remodel the e-tolling systems,again the issue of those who managed to pay for e-tolls all these years will be attended to by SANRAL.