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Outa vows to fight for residents with e-toll bills

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) plans to defend any member of the public who is summonsed by the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) to pay their e-toll bills.

This after the long-awaited decision, expected in February, on whether the Gauteng government will scrap e-tolls.

Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage told Pretoria Rekord it was still unclear whether motorists could expect an announcement on e-tolls in February.

“Far too often the Minister of Transport has indicated that an announcement was imminent and would happen, only to be told that the decision has been postponed.

“The minister’s credibility has been damaged when it comes to the e-toll decisions.”

Duvenage said a decision had to be made by the time the budget speech was announced in February, as government could not continue to extend the contract with Electronic Toll Collection (ETC).

“If a decision is not made in February, Outa will continue to raise this issue and place pressure on the state to make a decision.”

Defending those with e-toll bills

He said Outa’s decision to place pressure on government also meant that they would defend any member of the public who was summonsed by Sanral to pay their e-toll bills.

“The government cannot expect the public to pay their outstanding e-toll bills.”

R4.6 billion in outstanding bills is be needed to cover Gauteng’s unpaid e-tolls.

“This system was unworkable, and is fraught with unanswered questions related to corruption or maladministration. The public had every right not to pay these e-tolls, and the state can’t expect them to pay at any time.”

Over the past nine years been, government has attempted to work out the logistics and feasibility of scrapping the unpopular e-tolls in Gauteng, as considerations on all financial implications had to be taken into account.

According to a statement by transport minister Fikile Mbalula, a decision regarding the road-user pay system would be made next month.

The road-user pay system, which was implemented in December 2013, was immediately met with hostility, with many members of the public refusing to pay.

This led to President Cyril Ramaphosa appointing a task team to resolve the impasse over e-tolls back in 2019.

Since 2012, Outa has been trying to overturn the e-tolls system.

The ANC-run Gauteng government has also repeatedly voiced its opposition to e-tolls.

Mbalula said the final decision on the matter was a “priority” for Cabinet.

“The final determination is about how best to carry the cost burden of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, while maintaining these roads in pristine condition,” Mbalula said.

“We agreed with the Minister of Finance that the announcement of the final decision will be made during the budget speech in February.”

Mbalula said he would announce the decision during his budget speech in March 2021, but that did not happen.

Several other deadlines on the e-toll have come and gone since 2019.

This article first appeared on Caxton publication Pretoria Rekord, by Reitumetse Mahope. Read the original article here.

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