South Africa: Will He or Won't He? Mbalula Considers Scrapping E-Tolls

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has committed himself to consider the scrapping of Gauteng's controversial e-toll system.

Mbalula met with the Automobile Association and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"As we work towards the conclusion of our engagements to make firm decisions on the e-toll, today I engaged with two important stakeholders, the AA and the OUTA," Mbalula said.

"These engagements were an opportunity for us to understand the concerns and work together to find a lasting solution on the matter of funding the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP)."

Mbalula said he had listened to both stakeholders and committed to give them feedback from engagement processes.

"We will no doubt engage with the information they placed at our disposal. Delivering this year's State of the National Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: 'Civil society needs to continue to play its role in holding government to account but must also join us in practical actions to attain our common goals.'"

The minister said these engagements are a firm expression of his commitment and resolve to find common ground in addressing the challenge of funding road infrastructure while we advance measures to grow South Africa's economy.

"I am happy to meet with stakeholders committed to making an honest contribution towards the realisation of an efficient road-based transport system supported by world-class road infrastructure.

"Contribution to the process by civil society groups such as AA and OUTA is highly appreciated and is an indication that matters of common interest occupy the national discourse - and so it should," Mbalula said.

OUTA founder Wayne Duvenhage thanked Mbalula for the opportunity so discuss its concerns.

7 transport ministers since e-tolls implemented

"There have been seven ministers since the e-toll matter was turned on and for the first time, we're engaging with a minister who is keen to get our input.

"We believe that, had a similar approach been taken years ago, we would have found a solution."

Sanral is owed around R11bn in unpaid fees.

In July, Mbalula said a task team was working to ensure that a final report on the matter would be tabled before President Cyril Ramaphosa by the end of August 2019.

"We are mindful of the demand to scrap e-tolls and are therefore looking at solutions that will balance this demand with the need for the country to honour its obligation in so far as the e-toll debt is concerned."

In July, Ramaphosa weighed in on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng Premier David Makhura's disagreements over e-tolls, instructing the ministers to work together to find a solution.

A statement by the Presidency indicated that Ramaphosa had mandated Mbalula, Mboweni and Makhura to submit to Cabinet a solution for the e-toll system in Gauteng. The ministers are expected to table the proposals to Cabinet by the end of August 2019.

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