Department of Transport director-general Alec Moemi has said that Treasury must decide on the future of e-tolls. Until then, it is the law, and South Africans must pay their dues.
In a virtual parliamentary meeting last week, he said that further study on e-tolls needs to be conducted and that they remain an official government programme that must be respected.
“The minister of finance had a meeting this week to look at the matter, and it was agreed that further studies must be done, and then [a decision will be made] once we are clear where we are in terms of all the [financial] permutations that we are looking at,” Moemi said.
“We are working on it from that point of view. As it is, though, e-tolls remains a formal government programme, they remain legislated and gazetted, and members of society need to comply with them until a decision says differently.”
Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga agrees with Moemi, indicating that motorists must pay their e-toll bills.
Speaking to eNCA, she said: “You use the road that is tolled, you pay for it. You don’t use it, you don’t pay for it. It’s as simple as all that.”
“If you don’t want to pay the tolls, you use the other roads because they are there,” she said.
The Department of Transport has been under fire from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in recent months, BusinessTech reported.
The union believes that the e-toll system has failed, with motorists refusing to pay even the discounted rates.
In a bid to further pressurise the department, Cosatu has urged motorists to persist with non-payment of e-tolls and is prepared to disrupt the October elections through protest.
Cosatu has given Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula until the end of the month to announce the discontinuation of the e-toll system.
“In case (transport) minister Mbalula is not going to make an announcement favourable to our demands by the end of September, Cosatu in Gauteng will be left with no option but to protest on election day,” it said.
Civil action group, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, estimated that the South African Roads Agency spent R5.3 billion on trying to recover e-tolls from motorists who are unwilling and unlikely to pay since 2007.
In contrast, the agency only reported R10.5 billion in e-toll revenue. It didn’t recognise R17.3 billion in e-toll revenue due to the high levels of non-compliance.