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Mbalula: Economic burden e-tolls carry cannot be ignored

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is part of a presidential task team formed to find a solution to the debacle, which has seen outright public defiance of the e-tolling system.

An e-tolls gantry. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said that although government acknowledged the overwhelming opposition to e-tolls in Gauteng, the economic burden they carry cannot be ignored.

The minister was part of a presidential task team formed to find a solution to the debacle, which has seen outright public defiance of the e-tolling system.

A few days ago, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng Premier David Makhura clashed on social media over e-tolls, with the president calling the incident regrettable.

Although the public, civil society organisations and trade unions have been outspoken about their opposition to e-tolls, Mbalula said the question remained: where will the money come from?

“The society is not prepared to listen - it’s e-tolls no more. Gauteng government comes in - e-tolls no more. So, yes e-tolls no more, we’ve got to interrogate if no more, then where would the money come from to service the debt because the debt is not going to go away? Those are the realities.”

The e-tolling project by South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) has failed to garner any profit, leading to its long struggle with rising debt levels as the public continues to boycott the system.

Mbalula said it was now the government’s turn to respond and that the president’s August deadline to deliver a solution to the e-tolls problem would be met.

He said the issue was so serious that he found it unfortunate that it had been reduced to a public spat by a high ranking government official.

WATCH: 'I’m not going to respond to public spats' - Mbalula on e-toll twar