Photo: Supplied

AT LAST, an endgame for e-tolls? Mbalula says final decision ‘coming soon’

Gatvol motorists could finally know where they stand with the future of e-tolls by the end of next month – but which way will Fikile Mbalula lean?


Photo: Supplied

The DA has welcomed an update provided by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula this week, after he made a firm commitment to ending the e-tolls debate once and for all. The gantries have been wildly unpopular, as a large majority of road users in Gauteng refuse to pay their tollgate fees – but a final decision is now within touching distance.

End of the road for e-tolls… or another avenue ahead?

Frustratingly, Mbalula has not indicated whether his call will spell an end to e-tolls, or keep them in place for the foreseeable future. What he did confirm, however, was that an announcement will be made ‘before the end of March 2021’. That’s less than six weeks away, for anyone who is counting:

“We are equally enjoined to finalise the funding and tariff structure on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project by the end of this financial year [March 2021]. On top of that, we are putting in place long-term interventions that will introduce rail-reform, thereby making rail more effective and competitive in respect of freight and passenger transport.”

DA lay down the law for Fikile Mbalula

Fred Nel is Gauteng’s Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport. He expressed his approval of Mbalula’s speech in the National Assembly, but also issued his counterpart with a warning: The DA representative believes that Mbaks can only make one logical choice – and that would be to shutdown our e-tolls for good:

“We welcome Fikile Mbalula’s indication that the national government will provide certainty about the future of e-tolls by the end of March. However, the DA calls on him to stick to his promise this time. For the past 18 months, Mbalula has been continuously kicking this can down the road. The DA hopes that he has finally reached the end of that road.”

“In light of recent announcements that all toll fees will increase, despite the desperate state of our economy and subsequent damage to livelihoods during the lockdown, it is even more important to get rid of e-tolls as soon as possible. Any other announcement by the Minister cannot be acceptable. The people of Gauteng must no longer be burdened.”

E-tolls decision ‘due in six weeks’

Meanwhile, the FF Plus is also gatvol with the ‘extortionate’ payment system. They went one step further, predicting that a decision to keep e-tolls functioning would contribute to ‘widespread civil disobedience’ later in the year:

“The public is no longer willing to pay any taxes or tariffs to a government that allows their money to be stolen and squandered – which is what recently happened with the COVID-19 emergency fund. Irrational regulations imposed due to Covid-19 also promote civil disobedience, and this is also likely to keep happening if e-tolls remain in Gauteng.”