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Even the opposition cheers as Gauteng Premier Lesufi announces the scrapping of e-tolls

Even the opposition cheers as Gauteng Premier Lesufi announces the scrapping of e-tolls
Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. (Photo: Twitter / @GPLegislature)

There were sighs of relief, cheers and applause inside the Johannesburg City Hall on Monday night when Premier Panyaza Lesufi announced the ‘permanent’ demise of disastrous e-tolls in Gauteng during his maiden State of the Province Address.

The controversial e-toll project, which has been a headache for Gauteng residents for more than a decade, has finally been scrapped, at least according to Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s latest announcement.   

“Residents of Gauteng, we are pleased to report that e-tolls have been scrapped permanently in our province. Together with the minister of finance and transport, we will make a joint announcement in this regard.” 

The system was initially meant to be scrapped in December 2022, but the province missed the deadline, citing that key components of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the national and provincial governments still needed to be finalised.  

Nearly two months later, the details have still not been finalised.   

Lesufi revealed that the provincial and national governments were on the “verge” of agreeing on several matters including when exactly the e-tolls would be switched off, the debt repayment methods and, lastly, what would happen to funds collected from paying customers and non-paying customers. 

The head of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), Wayne Duvenage, who has been at the forefront of protesting against the system, previously warned: “Those people who are paying must know that the likelihood of them getting refunded is slim to zero.”  

Read more in Daily Maverick:Scrapping of Gauteng e-tolls delayed — deactivation now slated for early 2023”  

Lesufi, who received cheers and applause even from opposition parties, reiterated that it was the end of an era.   

“We are of the strong view that this chapter, this part of history in our province will now be finally buried and we will continue without e-tolls in this province,” he said.   

Daily Maverick previously reported that e-toll roads in Gauteng make up 1% of Sanral’s national network. The Gauteng road network is in desperate need of sprucing up, which will be costly. According to Sanral, 85% of Gauteng’s roads are beyond their design life cycle and need significant maintenance investments. The funding of this exercise remains a big mystery

An e-toll gantry on 8 December 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

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The premier announced his priorities as being:   

  • To accelerate Gauteng’s economic recovery and reconstruction;
  • To declare crime, corruption, lawlessness and vandalism as the enemy that must be mercilessly defeated;
  • To drastically change the living conditions of the people in the 26 townships of the province, more than 700 informal settlements and six provincially owned hostels;
  • A commitment to strengthening the capacity of the state to deliver quality services to the people and a commitment to improve and capacitate government communications so that the government can communicate better with its residents; and
  • Improving the health and wellness of communities.

Lesufi also used his address to highlight concerns about the R8.6-billion debt owed by municipalities in the province to Eskom. He said the two worst performing municipalities were Emfuleni and Tshwane.

“Of this debt, R6-billion is owed by Emfuleni Municipality alone. We must intervene to assist Emfuleni, a municipality that has great potential.”    

Read more in Daily Maverick:Eskom is owed R50bn by municipalities – This infographic shows which council owes what”  

In a bid to assist the municipality, the premier said he recently led a delegation to meet with the officials and stakeholders of Emfuleni and Eskom management. The meeting discussed tangible programmes to assist this municipality with its challenges by appointing a capable municipal manager and chief financial officer.  

“The other municipality that is worrying us is Tshwane, which has deteriorated, is struggling to pay Eskom and the latest Auditor-General report has painted a bleak picture of a collapsing municipality. We will intervene in that municipality as a matter of urgency.”   

An era of disasters  

Another area which Lesufi cited as a concern was Khutsong, a township on the West Rand with a number of sinkholes which are a danger to residents.   

The sinkholes are so bad that the province is about to declare a State of Disaster.

“If we do not act, this community will be swallowed by sinkholes. I want to take this opportunity to thank Mzamo Bogatsu, a young man who risked his life to save an old man from the sinkhole at Ward 8, Khutsong. Mzamo is our guest this evening. 

“Every day, we are inundated with emergency calls as houses are collapsing. We have now reached a stage where we have to declare a State of Disaster in this municipality. The minister is preparing the necessary paperwork for the declaration but, in the interim, we are providing the following solutions:  

  • Establishing a permanent Emergency Disaster Site;
  • “Early detection of sinkholes;
  • “Provision of psychosocial support to affected families;
  • “Running a public campaign about dangers of sinkholes; and
  • “Urging communities in dangerous areas to migrate within reasonable time to areas made available.” DM

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Derrick Kourie says:

    A few quick and equitable solutions to the etoll dilemma of those who have paid:
    Allow for an annual tax deduction, to be determined by some formula, until the payer has been compensated.
    Alternatively, provide payers with a “credit card” loaded with the amount they have payed and usable at filling stations until their credit has been used up.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    Anyone believing a word out of this delusional man’s mouth needs their head read.
    Lesufi is a fantastic promiser and a world-class sh!t-stirrer, but on delivery, this one is not so beeg.

  • Oblivious Traveler says:

    Today I rode through the gantries with no beeb from the e-tag. The gantries are now a monumental reminder of the foolish decision taken by the ANC to spend 20 billion rand on collecting tolls. The GFIP cost the same amount.
    Gauteng could have had more highways, but then we would have not had these reminders of the ANC’s blunders!

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    You who paid your e-tolls do not deserve a refund. You basked in the safety of zero risk compliance while those of us who protested and refused to pay carried the threats of prosecution and dire consequences of our protest action. It is that protest action that has brought the e-toll project to its knees. You compliant payers should be grateful that you won’t have to pay anymore e-tolls – and suck up the fact that you get none of your lily livered holier-than-thou safety money back.

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