The Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) says its Gauteng e-toll contract with the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has been extended – not renewed.
It says the extension was made as per the provisions of the contract entered into between the parties in 2009.
This was after the Democratic Alliance charged on Thursday that the ANC misled South Africans about the renewal of the contract.
The party’s premier candidate for Gauteng, Solly Msimanga, claimed that the contract was renewed without public knowledge or public consultation.
Msimanga briefed the media on the matter on Thursday in Bruma, Johannesburg, along with the party’s provincial leader, John Moodley, and MP Manny de Freitas. He said ETC confirmed to the party that its contract to manage e-tolls had already been extended in April 2017 and would run until December 2019.
“This directly contradicts the written reply by the Minister of Transport in September 2016 that the contract would expire on December 31, 2018,” Msimanga said.
“In fact, we have now also largely learnt that the contract has now been renewed up to the end of December this year  and this time with an option of renewing the contract up to 2021. So, that means that we are nowhere near ensuring that this contract comes to an end,” Msimanga said.
Not Renewed But Extended
However, ETC CEO Coenie Vermaak said the contract was not renewed but extended as per the original contract, which made provision for Sanral to exercise their right to extend the contract by one year.
“When Sanral concluded the original contract with ETC in 2009, the contract already at that point in time made provision for Sanral to exercise their right whereby it could extend the contract with one year. So the clause that Sanral exercised to extend the contract with one year has always been part of the original contract,” Vermaak said.
Vermaak also clarified that what was not clear to the public, was the fact that the contract between ETC and Sanral had three sections where different services were being delivered.
“So one of these sections has reduced from eight years to six years, and two of the sections increased from five to six years in order to make all three sections ending at exactly the same time,” he said.
He said this made Sanral’s procurement processes and procedures easier in terms of them going to market for any tenders.
“As we speak, we are working under the existing contract that was signed in 2009 with a clause being extended to the end of this year,” he said.
“ETC believes it is irresponsible and irrational for political parties like the DA to call for the scrapping of e-tolls until viable alternatives for using the system have been finalised and agreed on. Simply closing down the system will mean the sudden loss of all the technical expertise and cutting-edge infrastructure. It will also mean the loss of 1 300 jobs, excluding sub-contracted parties,” the body said in a statement.