Motorists still billed under e-toll system – Outa

Motorists still billed under e toll system – Outa.png

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has called for finality on the e-toll situation and warned against extending the toll collection contract – yet again.

This comes after the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) signed an extension to the Gauteng e-tolls collection late last year, despite the government’s announcement of the end of e-tolls and a massive bailout from the fiscus.

The contract was due to run out in “mid-June”, raising concern that another extension may already have been signed. The Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) agency is owned by the Austrian company Kapsch TrafficCom AG.

According to a statement released by Outa, the Kapsch annual and quarterly reports record that its collection contract for Gauteng e-tolls was extended twice during 2022. The first extension was sometime between 1 April and 30 September, and the second was likely finalised after the announcement of the end of e-tolls.

Outa described the extensions as “irregular” and “unnecessary” expenses.

“We call on the Minister of Transport and Sanral to end the collections contract as unnecessary,” Outa said.

The ETC collection contract started on 3 December 2013 when the gantries were switched on and were supposed to be for a maximum of eight years, including extensions, which took it to December 2021.

However, Sanral has repeatedly extended it since then without going through a new procurement process, believed to be partly due to the confusion over the future of the scheme.

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana announced the end of e-tolls during his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on 26 October last year. The MTBPS also included two bailouts for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP): R23 736 billion to Sanral to pay off government-guaranteed debt and another R3 740 billion moved within the Sanral budget from non-toll roads to the GFIP.

“Despite minister Godongwana’s announcement, the government has failed to end e-tolls or explain the debt situation formally. Ending the e-tolls requires the Minister of Transport to declare the GFIP roads no longer subject to tolls, which has not been done, so motorists continue to be billed,” Outa said.

The government promised that by the end of 2022 – nearly six months ago – the end of e-tolls would be finalised.

“Here we are in June 2023 – nothing has changed,” Wayne Duvenage, Outa CEO, said.

“The government’s inability to implement its own decisions is at play here. We’ve seen this before; a lot is said and nothing is done.

“The e-toll bills still go out every month, and a handful of people pay.

“We call on the government to implement the decision they’ve made, once and for all so that we can bring this debacle to an end,” Duvenage said.

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