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More talk that a decision on e-tolls is imminent

But we’ve heard this before. Government has so far missed four of its own deadlines.
The upcoming (though likely to be postponed) local government elections, and a greater need for relief measures following the recent unrest, may make the decision even more difficult. Image: Moneyweb

Expectations are again being created that a final decision on the future of e-tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) is imminent.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula reportedly said during a recent interview with television news channel eNCA that a final announcement about the future of e-tolls, not only in Gauteng but across the country, is expected later this month.

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“After July 19, you will get our response,” said Mbalula.

However, motorists should not hold their breath. Many such declarations have been made in the past, only for the deadline to pass without any pronouncement being made.

One obvious hurdle

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams confirmed on Tuesday that there won’t be a cabinet meeting on Wednesday (July 21), and that following a recess cabinet meetings will only resume either next week or the week thereafter.

Mbalula said during the eNCA interview that the transport department will be meeting National Treasury to discuss e-tolls before presenting its report to cabinet.

A public announcement will only be made once cabinet has endorsed “our approach with Finance Minister Tito Mboweni”, he said.

Mbalula told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on May 6 that a government announcement on the future of e-tolls would be made in the next two weeks.

He subsequently said during his budget vote speech on May 21 that a decision by the government on the future of the e-toll system is “imminent”.

Moving goalposts?

The cost of government community and business support and relief initiatives in response to the damage and destruction of property and infrastructure caused by last week’s unrest and looting – as well as anticipated job losses from resulting business closures – is likely to be an added financial complication to the resolution of the drawn out e-tolls saga.

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Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) CEO Wayne Duvenage queried what Mbalula is implying with his statement about e-tolls around the country.

Duvenage said the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) indicated a long time ago that e-tolls do not work in South Africa and will not be rolled out anywhere else.

“Tolling is one thing – and e-tolling is another thing,” he said. “I won’t hold my breath [for a decision soon].”

Duvenage added that the only decision that Outa believes can be made on e-tolls is that it will not be applied in the context of eNatis being a disaster because it has bad information, the Post Office being “non-existent” and question marks existing about what needs to be done about the administration and enforcement of e-tolls.

Promises, promises

DA Gauteng shadow MEC for roads and transport Fred Nel said Mbalula has strung along motorists and consumers in the province since February this year, promising imminent announcements on the future of e-tolls no less than four times, with the last promise made in May.

“It is almost two months since his last deadline of making an announcement and not a peep has been heard from the minister. Each time he points a finger to cabinet which needs to make the final decision.

“It is clear that Mbalula cannot get an agreement from cabinet and that he is clearly at loggerheads with his colleagues who seem to be concerned about the cost of scrapping the system.”

Government playing for time?

“Mbalula can no longer evade responsibility on e-tolls and his delaying tactics are causing more suspicion about the government’s intentions to scrap the system,” Nel added.

“The ANC government is clearly playing for time as the announcement may make things uncomfortable for them on 27 October when the local government elections are scheduled to take place,” he claimed. “They clearly do not want to make their decision known before then.”

Mbalula previously said he had presented nine possible solutions to government to resolve the e-tolls impasse, the first of which is “to scrap the e-tolls”.

However, Mbalula highlighted the financial commitments that have been made in terms of the repayment of the debt to finance the GFIP.

Mbalula stressed that the bigger issue for government is not the scrapping of e-tolls but sustaining its position on the bond market by living up to its obligations by servicing the e-toll debt.

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Synonyms for “comedy”: Farce, fun, humour, satire, comicality, drollery, funniness, hilarity, humorousness, laughs, shtick, slapstick, comic drama, fun and games, gag show, jesting, joking, light entertainment.

“After July 19, you will get our response,” said Mbalula”

Just more Blah, Blah, Blah. What clowns.

He is being 100% honest we will get an answer after 19 July 2021 the questions is just in which decade or century.

When the ANC wants to distract people to cover up their failings they trot out the solution to the e-tolls. They do not have any intention of proposing a solution any income is better than none from the tolls.

e-Toll, another disaster brought to you by the ANC.

Without backup generators they will be in the same boat as everything else. The structures should be preserved as monuments to the totalitarian folly of believing that bullying the people into submission is a good and effective practice.

Yeah, because they have totally not had that for the last 8 years right.

It started 27 years ago. Every election the folly inflates itself some more. Just like a toad in the mating season. I suggest Totalitarian Folly T-Shirts with 6 fat toads for emblem.

What has that got to do with your irrelevant backup generator story?

Great activism. Preaching to the converted. From an armchair perhaps?

Robertinsydney, is that you?

I thought you were pushing up the daisies yonks ago.

Just say “my confused dribble has nothing to do with my confused earlier statement”. Deflection is weak.

It is of no consequences in any case – we do not pay !!!!

Government performing true to type, why expect anything else?

Can someone PLEASE tell me one thing this Mbalula has accomplished?????

Getting a monthly salary – thank you tax payer – totally out of proportion with his ability.

Lots, apart from his salary, free flights, security, probably upgrades to his home, a few bags under the table, a Gupta holiday in Dubai, just a few on his list of achievements which will also include this he has not managed to do.

All in all a good days work……

Like Zuma, Like Mbalula, always wanting their day but just not quite getting there. Two of Stalingrad’s finest students.

“More talk that a decision on e-tolls is imminent” . . . . that’s all it is . . .”talk”.

“Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams confirmed on Tuesday that there won’t be a cabinet meeting on Wednesday (July 21), and that following a recess cabinet meetings will only resume either next week or the week thereafter”.
So no urgency then – about this or the recent anarchy /insurrection!

I have managed a lot of capital projects in my life and one of the most important principles is that you do not start if you do not know how to finance it. We agreed to host the 2010 world cup without the faintest idea how we will finance the infrastructure that was necessary for it. The e-toll was a desperate emergency plan to raise the money and could have worked if it was implemented efficiently. Unfortunately it turned out to be such a mess that I do believe it can not be saved.

End of comments.

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