Statements made by Gauteng’s Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo on a radio show on Thursday morning made it appear that e-tolls had been scrapped, however a subsequent statement by the national Department of Transport said that no decision had been made as yet.
During an interview with Steven Groottes on SAFM, the MEC said “they’ve been scrapped. The people of Gauteng should not be burdened for paying for national roads that serve all of us.”
However, the Department of Transport was quick to refute that e-tolls were being scrapped.
“It is important to note that currently no decision has been made regarding the future of e-tolls,” the Transport Department said in a statement that reacted to Mamabolo’s interview.
“At the moment the Ministry of Transport is seized with the responsibility of ensuring that beyond a determination of whether the e-tolls are scrapped or not, proper decisions are made with regard to how road infrastructure rollout and maintenance in this country will be financed”.
“This is what the Minister of Transport and his counterparts in the National Government are determining at present and at the right time when all that has been finalised, an announcement will indeed be made”.
The Gauteng MEC took to Twitter after his interview, saying: “We reaffirm that the announcement on the scrapping of e-tolls is imminent and must be made soon”. But does Mamabolo know something that we don’t know or was he just stirring the pot? It is well known that the Gauteng government has been at loggerheads with its national counterpart over e-tolling, and the DOT made it clear during its statement on Thursday that the MEC’s position was a “provincial” one.
The Automobile Association reiterated that Mamabolo’s statement did not constitute an official announcement, and also pointed out that several key questions still needed answering:
“Are people who have been paying for e-tolls going to be reimbursed, and will outstanding debt owed to the system also be scrapped? And, critically, what is the future funding model going to look like? These are important issues that must be dealt with apart from simply saying the system has been scrapped,” the AA added.
Wayne Duvenage, CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) said: “At this stage we have more questions than answers on this morning’s announcement, but we are treating this breaking news as being early signs of an imminent announcement on the future of an irrational scheme that was forced onto Gauteng motorists.
“If true, civil society has a lot to celebrate, but we need to also unpack the meaning and gravitas of this win for the people against an irrational decision taken by government over a decade ago,” Duvenage concluded.