e-tolls fikile mbalula

Photo: Flickr/Paul Saad

E-tolls reach “bargaining stage” of death: New debt-reduction offer slammed

In a desperate, insurmountable debt trap, the company running South Africa’s e-tolls have made a desperate plea for survival. But it hasn’t gone down well.

e-tolls fikile mbalula

Photo: Flickr/Paul Saad

They say that bargaining is one of the five stages of dealing with grief and death. Well, the company who imposed e-tolls of Gauteng’s road users are certainly nowhere near “acceptance” yet. They’ve come up with a proposal that would keep the unpopular gantries functioning for the foreseeable future, eventually writing off drivers’ debts.

E-tolls: What is the new debt offer made to drivers?

The Electronic Tolling Company (ETC) are owned by Austrian outfit Kapsch Trafficom. The group are now proposing that 20% of all debt will be wiped off of the bills each year, if motorists start complying in higher numbers. As it stands, just 25 – 30% of all road users in the province actually bother paying their fees to Sanral:

“For every year of compliance, Sanral would write off 20% of historical debt – meaning that after five years, a newly compliant road user would be debt free. This would leave room for Sanral to restructure its balance sheet and a way for road users to become compliant without fear of legal summons.”

ETC statement

End of the road for e-tolls?

Their offer comes at a time where e-tolls face the most uncertainty they’ve ever been landed with. For the majority of their tumultuous six-year existence in Mzansi, the project had unequivocal government support. However, the tides of opinion are beginning to change drastically.

Provincial and national figures of the ANC have accepted that e-tolls have a limited shelflife. Gauteng Premier David Makhura has vowed to banish the system by the end of the year, and newly-appointed Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has expressed his doubts over the continuation of these tolls.

Negative reaction to ETC plans

Needless to say, their attempt at bargaining with road users has not impressed everyone. The Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) have had their say on the matter, and renewed hostilities with the ETC on Twitter:

“Sorry, but no… First, the Electronic Tolling Company should explain to us why they are paid R1.6 billion each year to collect e-tolls. The fuel levy was logical, but there is no administrative cost choice to pay here.”


Sanral’s ill-conceived project has plunged them into more than R10 billion worth of debt, thanks to non-compliance. The e-tolls organisation seems to be on its last legs – regardless of whether they are ready to move on to “acceptance” or not.