“Gauteng Government Announces Definitive End to E-Tolls: Formal Dismantling Process to Commence in March

The Gauteng Provincial Government is set to commence the official process of dismantling and disconnecting e-tolls on March 31, 2024, as announced by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi during his State of the Province address in 2024.

Acknowledging the widespread rejection of e-tolls by the people of Gauteng, Lesufi stated, “We have now reached a stage where we all accept that the people of Gauteng have rejected e-tolls.” He emphasized the agreement reached in meetings with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport, stating that the formal process to switch off and de-link e-tolls would begin by the specified date.

Lesufi mentioned that Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana would provide further details during his upcoming budget speech. This announcement echoes similar assurances made by Lesufi in October 2022, where he declared the e-toll system obsolete and a thing of the past.

In the aftermath of Godongwana’s 2022 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, it was revealed that the national and provincial governments would assume responsibility for settling Sanral’s debt related to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). Lesufi expressed readiness to start a new era without e-tolls, describing the decision as necessary though not easy.

Despite Lesufi’s earlier announcement in January 2023 about refunding Gauteng motorists who paid their e-toll bills, this commitment was later retracted towards the end of the same year. The e-toll system, initially designed to fund the GFIP, faced widespread rejection from Gauteng residents, leading to Sanral accumulating substantial debt.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), a group that actively opposed e-tolls since its inception in 2013, praised the decision to abolish e-tolls. Originating as the Opposition Against Urban Tolling Alliance, Outa resisted the e-toll scheme through civil disobedience and advocacy.

To resolve the financial challenges posed by the accumulated debt, the Gauteng provincial government agreed to contribute 30%, with the national government covering the remaining 70%. Lesufi highlighted the commitment to formulate a new revenue enhancement model that excludes tolling motorists, emphasizing the need for some form of refund, potentially amounting to R6.9 billion, the method of which is yet to be determined.

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