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Government to explore other ways to pay back e-tolls billions

South African's owe billions of rands in e-tolls
South African's owe billions of rands in e-tolls

Cabinet will have further engagements on what needs to happen to billions of rands owed due to e-tolling in Gauteng.

This is the announcement made by transport minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday, following Tito Mboweni’s medium term budget expenditure framework (MTBPS).

“Cabinet noted the options considered by the task team appointed by the President of the Republic Cyril Ramaphosa, comprising minister Mbalula as the chairperson, finance minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng premier David Makhura,” Mbalula said.

“Having duly noted the options presented, cabinet resolved that further work be undertaken in answering to the challenges posed by the options identified. The task team will explore the directives of cabinet, continue engaging stakeholders and report back. The minister of transport will communicate the details once the process has been finalised.”

Government has been trying to find a way to pay billions of rands which were used to fund the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. E-tolling in Gauteng began in December 2013. But government has struggled to recover funds as most motorists simply did not pay the e-toll bills. The ANC in Gauteng has been trying to get national government to scrap the system, arguing that it would have a negative impact on the residents of the province.

In his speech on Wednesday, Mboweni said that the user pay principle would still remain. MTBPS document shows that since 2014/15, national roads agency Sanral has incurred annual average losses of R1bn. The government has extended a total guarantee facility of R38,9bn to the agency, of which R30,3bn had been used by March 31 this year.

Over the medium term, Sanral is expected to repay R10,7bn of maturing debt obligations and R10,8bn worth of interest payments. To enable Sanral to pay these obligations, the government will implement direct user charges, as outlined in the white paper on national transport policy, reads the document.

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