07 December 2017. Swallows official Panyaza Lesufi. Pic: Simphiwe Nkwali. © Sunday Times.
NEWSSouth Africa

E-toll payments to be refunded

Johannesburg – Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi recently announced that those who paid for e-tolls over the years will be refunded.

  Lesufi said decision on whether or not to refund Gauteng motorists was one of the issues that led to the delay of the e-toll system being scrapped on 31 December as planned.

  “The scrapping of Gauteng e-tolls is a legislative process that necessitates regulation changes through publishing a gazette, but there have been differences between national and provincial governments on details. Among these differences is what to do with the money owed by motorists on their bills, and what to do with motorists who have been paying e-tolls over the years,” he said.

  He added that while the social victory over e-tolls has been made clear, the system will definitely be scrapped.

  “All the other details have financial and tax implications for the province, which need to be ironed out. We hope it is done within the next 14 days before the state of the province address,” Lesufi said.

  He added that 95% of the e-tolling issues have been settled, with government deciding to refund road users who have been paying.

  “The system has a compliance rate of 17%, so the number of users is not that large, but the refund amount of R6.9 billion is not insignificant. Outstanding debate is the manner in which they will be refunded,” he said.

  Lesufi said many of the compliant road users are businesses and freight companies, as well as foreigners who preferred the convenience of e-tolls over manual payments. 

  “A decision on the matter will be made and announced during the state of the province address later this month,” he said.

  Lesufi said the 30% committed by the province to pay off the debt amounts to around R12 billion. The province is currently negotiating favourable terms for the repayment, the premier hoping for a 20-year payment period.

  “That way we can use various mechanisms to raise revenue,” he said.

  While the method to raise the revenue is being determined, he hinted at some of the mechanisms available, including using existing tax laws. Some options include raising licence fees; manual tolling on vehicles entering Gauteng as it is not only Gauteng drivers using the roads; and a three cent per litre fuel increase.

  He added that nothing has been decided yet, but when the decision is made the provincial government will consult residents.

  “There are various mechanisms but we do not want to commit the same mistake as e-tolls of imposing a transaction without consulting. Now we will be unleashing our consultative process. No one is opposed to the payment of the debt, but the issue is the e-tolls. We will consult our residents,” he said.

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