DA seeks accountability over e-tolls

The DA has announced its intention to investigate the purported scrapping of the e-Tolls system in Gauteng.

In a statement on Tuesday, the opposition party said it would direct questions to the Member of the Executive Council for Roads and Transport, Kedibone Diale, seeking clarity on the plans implemented since the announcement of the e-Tolls’ removal.

The controversy surrounding e-Tolls resurfaced after Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, during his State of the Province Address (Sopa) in February, confirmed that the e-Tolls had been scrapped. However, recent developments suggest that the fate of the system remains uncertain.

“The e-Toll contract has been renewed until the middle of June. There is a possibility that this contract will be extended once again, even though Premier Panyaza Lesufi has assured residents that e-Tolls are a thing of the past.

“The extension of this contract means that the current debt owed for the e-Toll gantries will increase, and residents will continue to be billed for this unwanted system,” expressed Fred Nel, a representative of the DA, highlighting concerns over the lack of communication regarding the Gauteng Provincial Government’s (GPG) responsibility to pay off the debt associated with e-Tolls.

Moreover, Nel raised alarming issues related to the financial model for the replacement of e-Tolls, stating that the GPG has not yet finalised a plan. He said this situation puts the province at risk of accumulating debt without a clear strategy for repayment.

Nel further warned that such a scenario would likely divert funds from other essential departments, ultimately impacting service delivery in the province.

“The DA will continue to fight any proposal for an additional tax on our residents,” Nel asserted, emphasising the party’s commitment to advocating against any potential burden placed on the people of Gauteng.

The e-Tolls system, which has long been a subject of contention and public dissatisfaction, was initially introduced in 2013 as a means to fund the upgrade and maintenance of Gauteng’s road infrastructure. However, it faced widespread opposition, with many residents refusing to pay the toll fees, leading to mounting debts and administrative challenges.

While Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s announcement of the e-Tolls’ termination was initially welcomed, the DA’s concerns and their decision to probe the matter indicate that the issue is far from resolved. 

It remains to be seen how the Gauteng government will address these concerns and ensure transparency regarding the e-Tolls’ removal.

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