Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said “extensive discussions” are under way about e-tolls in the province‚ but added that a decision to scrap them had not been made.
“I want to be honest with you‚ we understand the public sentiment… but at the same time we have got another problem that many people do not want to deal with‚” he told On The Record‚ broadcast on SABC television on Thursday evening.
“We owe an amount in today’s terms of R67-billion. That’s the amount we owe on the building of these wonderful freeways. The issue is who is going to pay and how are we going to pay‚” he asked.
Gauteng ANC deputy chairman Panyaza Lesufi said in July that a resolution had been taken‚ at the party’s provincial conference in Johannesburg‚ to set up a task team to look into scrapping e-tolls. He said e-tolls were harming the ANC brand‚ were unpopular and needed to go.
The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral)‚ which manages the country’s national roads network‚ is struggling to collect enough in toll fees‚ parliament heard earlier this month.
“Sanral… deliver wonderful highways‚ but they are being dragged down by the e-tolls. The president has said to me and the others‚ ‘We must solve this thing‚ before the end of the year we must know where we are going and what are we going to do’‚” said Nzimande.
“The issue is simply this… how do we fund our public roads and our highways… For example‚ if you take away the e-tolls now‚ we are not saying we are or we are not‚ how do you pay this R67-billion? Do you increase the fuel levy? Already there is a huge outcry that the fuel prices are high‚” he told the SABC.
“For now‚ there is no decision that has been taken‚ there is engagement… We need to engage everyone and come to a common understanding based on how do we fund road infrastructure in South Africa.”