The drive from Johannesburg to Pretoria is a nightmare at the best of times, but according to one executive for the much-maligned e-tolls, things could soon get much worse.
Speaking to MoneyWeb, Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) CEO Coenie Vermaak made the shocking prediction while talking about the impact of drivers who aren’t paying their road fees. Between 70 – 75% of motorists on Gauteng’s roads refuse to comply with e-tolls.
What is “Phase 2” of e-tolls?
Since introducing the controversial scheme back in 2013, Sanral were hoping that a high-compliance rate would fund their plans for “Phase 2” of their developments. This next step would include a highway from Soshanguve to Sandton, a new route between Soweto and Johannesburg and a ring road around Jozi.
However, the government department is in dire financial trouble, after failing to account for just how many people would resist their proposals.
Vermaak says that an inability to fund road improvements is going to have an unavoidable knock-on effect for commuters between Johannesburg and Pretoria, resulting in mammoth delays:
“People are already noticing the growing congestion on the highways. Unless we get busy with Phase Two of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), which involves building 158 kilometres of new roads to redirect traffic away from the congestion areas, you better get prepared for a six-hour commute between Joburg and Pretoria. This is how long we project it will take by 2037 if we don’t address this problem urgently.”
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Why there’s a fight to keep e-tolls
The CEO also revealed that he never paid his own e-tolls until he was offered the job at ETC. Which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, is it? Vermaak said that he had his eyes opened to the benefits of the payment system, and realised what potential disasters could unfold if motorists abandon it completely.
He says that scrapping e-tolls could “impact SA’s sovereign status and increase the cost of all government-backed borrowings”.
Solly Msimanga has his say
Meanwhile, DA Gauteng Premier candidate and Mayor of Tshwane Solly Msimanga has called for the ANC to put a stop to the programme before 2019. He states that the contract with Sanral ends in December, and it’s an opportunity the ruling party must take to cut themselves free of this burden:
“Our people want e–tolls to be scrapped immediately and there is a chance to do exactly that this year when the contract ends on 31 December.”
“If the President was indeed concerned about the plight of the poor in this country as echoed, by Jeffrey Radebe, Minister of Energy while receiving our memorandum on e-tolls last week, the President would have scrapped the project a long time ago.”
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