The only positive e-tolling outcome would be if government scraps the system and comes up with funding through the national fiscus, fuel levy and other mechanisms, according to the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa).
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce a new dispensation on Gauteng e-tolls at Parliament in Cape Town, the Presidency said in a statement.
Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage told Fin24 on Wednesday that the organisation does not expect this outcome.
“We expect they will try and hold on to e-tolls in some form in the hybrid funding model,” he said. “We expect Treasury will put some funding towards the problem and will be there partially to bail out Sanral’s [the South African National Roads Agency’s] situation.
“They did that in 2012, when they [Treasury] gave R5.7bn towards Sanral’s e-toll matter, when they lowered the rate (from) 40c to 30c.
“We’re also expecting Ramaphosa to announce reduced toll rates… but the problem we’ve said all along is that the system is unworkable, it’s inefficient and the contracts are highly costly.
“To hold on to tolling in any form… is a failure.”
What society wants
“If they scrap tolling and come up with funding through the national fiscus, fuel levy and a couple of other mechanisms, then that would be a win,” he said. “That’s what society’s looking for, because this is social infrastructure and it should be financed through taxation.”
“E-tolling only works when you have the committed buy-in by society and… when you have really efficient alternatives in terms of public transport, which we don’t have.”
Duvenage said for e-tolling to work, government would need 80% compliance. The highest it reached was 45% in June 2014, but it averaged at 20%. “What they don’t want to do is beat the public into submission and participation,” he said. “It has to be a willing process.”
Gauteng premier David Makhura said e-tolling funds would be used to upgrade and introduce more freeways to strengthen South Africa’s infrastructure.
“We [Outa] want South Africa to succeed [and] we need the infrastructure, but [we] just do not need a waste of taxpayer’s time and money,” said Duvenage.
“We believe they have to find other mechanisms,” he said. “It makes no sense to… double tax this region for a small… upgrade of the eastern freeway… when they can use the fuel levy.”
He said the fuel levy has an extra R30bn coming into the “coffers of government”.
“So, the money is there.”
Duvenage said that when the ANC lost 10% of its votes in Gauteng in the 2014 provincial elections, it was put down to the e-toll matter.
“Unless they sort this out and take this burden off the Gauteng residents, it’s going to hurt them in those local elections [in 2016],” he said.