E-tolls, once a fundamental source of complaints from the motorists of Gauteng, have enjoyed something of a quietened existence during this pandemic. But with South Africa heading towards Level 1 – the lightest form of lockdown – normal service isn’t far from being resumed, which means grumbles about the controversial gantries are making a comeback.
Despite overwhelming negativity from a majority of the public – who have voted with their wallets by refusing to pay the toll charges during their workday commutes – SANRAL continue to forge ahead with the much-maligned system. In fact, the organisation has even issued tenders for those bidding to manage E-tolls in the province.
With Wednesday marking the last day of bidding, some see SANRAL’s decision as ‘presumptuous’ at best. Fred Nel is the DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport. He’s at a loss as to why the government is still persisting to try and make E-tolls work. In fact, with their future in the balance, it’s fair to say SANRAL has taken something of a gamble.
Should the gantries finally be dismissed by powers higher than SANRAL, they will be saddled with a hefty management bill. It’s something Nel has described as ‘a counterproductive waste of time’:
“News that SANRAL has issued a tender for the management of the controversial E-toll system in July makes a decision on the future of e-tolls by cabinet an urgent one. The tender was advertised (and closes today) because Cabinet has not yet informed SANRAL about which way it is going with E-tolls.”
“The people of Gauteng have spoken and signalled to the government in no uncertain terms that E-tolls must go. To waste time and energy in considering a tender that may never be awarded is counterproductive.”
“Even worse, if the tender is awarded and E-tolls is scrapped, it will leave a contractual burden for SANRAL Government needs to make its decision on E-tolls known as a matter of urgency before the tender proceeds any further.”Fred Nel