e-tolls prasa

Photo: Siyabonga Africa / Flickr

“Robbing Peter to pay Paul”: New bailout plan for e-tolls heavily criticised

Reports have emerged that PRASA could be raided to fund the flailing e-tolls in Gauteng. As you’d expect, this plan has done very little to calm the detractors.

e-tolls prasa

Photo: Siyabonga Africa / Flickr

The scrutiny over the future of e-tolls in Gauteng has intensified since the 2019 Election, with local and national branches of the ANC clashing over how best to deal with the failed payment systems. However, one alleged hare-brained scheme to keep the gantries going has been slammed by the DA’s Solly Msimanga.

Another bailout for e-tolls?

One of the leading crusaders against e-tolls, the party’s caucus leader in the province has reacted angrily to a report in City Press, which claims the flailing SANRAL project will get a cash injection – with funds being diverted from national rail authority PRASA to make this plan a reality.

Trains are frequently late, over-crowded, plagued with technical issues and are hotspots of crime. So plundering the resources from this particular department would, on the face of things, only be counterproductive.

Solly Msimanga blasts Prasa-funded bailout as “careless”

Msimanga launched into a verbal offensive on Monday, slamming the ANC for “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” He reiterated the DA’s stance on e-tolls, demanding that the ill-fated toll plazas simply must go:

“Reports in this weekend’s City Press indicating that funds will be cut from struggling Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to bail out the failing e-toll system once again highlights the fact that the ANC does not care about the plight of our people.”

“The Bill seeks to divert funding from one dysfunctional mode of transport to rectify the ill-conceived e-tolls system. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not how prudent financial management of the public purse is exercised. E-tolls must go and our infrastructure must be upgraded.”

Solly Msimanga

How much debt have e-tolls caused?

To say SANRAL are in financial trouble would be the understatement of the year. They are more than R10 billion in debt, after pinning most of their hopes on e-tolls being a big success: Big mistake. Only 25-30% of road users are compliant with the fees, and the department’s attempts to reclaim money have been laughable.

They had to call off their attempt to summon thousands of motorists to court and were stopped in their tracks for plans to introduce punitive licensing measures on serious offenders.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Gauteng Premier David Makhura are leaning towards the removal of e-tolls, but they’ll have to convince the big boss first: It’s understood that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni doesn’t want to budge on the matter, and insists the gantries will stay – Msimanga believes that “no progress” will now be made.