Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has announced a further extension to the consultation process around the future of e-tolls to give stakeholders time to consult with their respective interest groups. But civil society group Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) criticised the minister for the postponement. CEO Wayne Duvenage said Mbalula was the seventh minister of transport to deal with the matter without success.
“He is trying to grapple with his failed scheme. As far as we are concerned this project has failed. The more they delay, the more it costs the taxpayer.” According to Duvenage, e-tolls were the most discussed matter between government and civil society.
“It’s become a joke now.” Mbalula said e-tolls remained his top priority and was being attended to on an urgent basis. The extension was granted after the stakeholders requested it.
Mbalula was supposed to meet various stakeholders concerned with the e-tolls that were established on Gauteng highways to toll the freeways as payments for the improvements done. The project faced a financial crisis after Gauteng motorists boycotted payments.
An annual report for the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) showed it had collected a mere R687.7 million for the 2018/19 financial year’s R1.87 billion. Mbalula, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni were instructed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to find a solution to e-tolls.
They were given an end-of-August deadline, which could not be met. Mbalula cautioned against rushing the process.
“This is a complex and sensitive matter of national importance. It should not be subjected to mechanical procedures and timetables. All ideas and options must be considered for the best possible solution,” Mbalula said. He said once all key stakeholders had been consulted, the report would be handed over to the president.
Makhura and Mboweni stood on opposite poles on the matter. Makhura was vehemently opposed to the system, but Mboweni has insisted that users must pay.
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Source: The Citizen