E-toll tariffs set to drop

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene revealed that revised monthly ceilings would be soon be proposed.

FILE: A Gauteng gantry. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - While it's been announced that e-toll tariffs will drop this year, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has insisted that the government wasn't abandoning the user-pays principle.

Nene said the government stood firmly behind the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), which was suffering the economic consequences of resistance to the electronic tolling of Gauteng's new freeways.

The minister presented his first Budget Speech in Parliament on Wednesday.

He said the government has heard complaints that e-toll tariffs are set too high and revealed that revised monthly ceilings would be proposed shortly.

Nene, however, insisted the user-pays principle would still apply when it came to maintaining the country's roads.

"This is not a compromise."

The minister added that it wasn't about keeping Sanral solvent.

"The longer it takes to resolve the matter, the more the situation becomes a burden on the company and the government."

He also denied that the move was about appeasing voters ahead of local government elections next year.

Earlier, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said it expected him to give a significant amount of Treasury's money to the roads agency to pay back its debt, but warned it would not solve the e-tolling problem.

In 2012, Pravin Gordhan announced e-tolls would be implemented, but at a much lower cost to motorists.