A decision on e-tolls will be made soon, probably before Christmas, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula told the media on Monday in Johannesburg where he was part of the launch of the festive season safety campaign.
Mbalula said the e-toll matter was before cabinet, and a decision would not come before December 16. “Once cabinet has finalised on its decision, we will brief you on the outcome.”
Since the medium-term budget policy statement, Mbalula has been fielding a plethora of questions regarding the e-toll system, especially after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni told parliament that not paying e-tolls was not an option.
In an effort to clarify any confusion, Mbalula said cabinet had not taken a decision on e-tolls and was still deliberating on the matter.
E-tolls were set up to fund the upgrading of Gauteng’s freeways, but has since experienced a financial decline as most drivers were not paying their bills, which resulted in the system accumulating debt.
Among the options to be considered by cabinet are the cancellation of the system, which will mean government will assume full responsibility for its debt. This would in turn mean the improvement of freeways would essentially come to a standstill.
Another option would be to introduce a public transport fund which would prioritize public transport on freeways, or should all fail, a last resort would be to keep the system as is.