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Sanral CEO Macozoma: The time to debate e-tolls is over

The contentious e-tolling system has been dragging on for more than six years, with many motorists refusing to pay or simply unable to fork out the extra cost each month.

Sanral CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma. Picture: @SANRAL_za/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma said the time for debates on e-tolls was over because, with deteriorating roads and poor revenue collection, the country needed to make a final decision.

The contentious e-tolling system has been dragging on for more than six years, with many motorists refusing to pay or simply unable to fork out the extra cost each month.

Eyewitness News sat down with the head of the road’s agency, which has seen losses of more than R640 million due to the lockdown.

WATCH: Sanral lost over R640 million due to COVID-19 hard lockdown

Macozoma said the backlog for road infrastructure for national, provincial and municipal roads amounted to more than R400 billion.

“I think that the time for advancing the interests of specific lobby groups is over, we need to get to a firm decision.”

He said one way or the other, this money needed to come from somewhere to upgrade the roads and maintain infrastructure.

“If the decision is that we don’t use private finance to assist in developing and maintaining road infrastructure, people must brace themselves to fund government to pay this money, otherwise the roads are going down. Sanral will just be another roads authority that is not capable of managing its network and you will have potholes on national roads and freeways.”

Cabinet still needs to make a final announcement on what will happen to e-tolls after a strong opposition led to government considering other options to pay for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

However, a final decision seems to have hit a snag as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CABINET DECISION ON E-TOLLS MUST IN INTEREST OF SA

Macozoma said Cabinet's final decision on the future of e-tolls must be in the interests of the entire country and the economy.

In December, it will be seven years since controversial e-toll gantries went live on Gauteng's highways and seven years of strong opposition.

Only 20%t of motorists using the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project roads pay for it as it was designed to pass on the financial burden to road users.

Macozoma claimed if citizens were successful and the private funding of e-tolls was scrapped, it would have far-reaching implications for the business.

“Which will introduce turmoil we all don’t need, because if a decision is made to withdraw the scheme in Gauteng, other parts of the country will ask why should they pay when people in Gauteng don’t? That’s a debate we don’t want. We need something that is going to sustain the country.”

Macozoma said R150 billion worth of toll projects had been placed on ice due to the strong objection to e-tolls.

The roads agency said the longer these projects were postponed, it could cost 18 times more than the original price.

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