By Tom Head for The South African
Gauteng motorists, we’ve got some bad news: e-tolls have been given the kiss of life by the government, who have promised to cover Sanral’s debts.
When the people talk, politicians should listen. However, it would seem there have been some spectacular crossed wires in Gauteng. The much-maligned and financially crippled e-tolls system will now live to fight another day, after Transport Minister Blade Nzimande confirmed Sanral would receive a R5.7 billion bailout.
The roads agency have been plunged into fiscal despair by the ill-conceived tolls, which have failed to bring in the revenue previously forecast. It has left Sanral with debts soaring above R10 billion, but thanks to the deep pockets of the ANC, their money woes have effectively been halved.
Why Sanral have been bailed out
Nzimande explained the decision via a statement on Monday afternoon. He says the bailout is to help ensure that the department can meet “payment terms” with its investors. The move was labelled as a “strategic intervention” to help prop-up the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).
“As a result of Sanral’s toll network experiencing financial difficulties, and to ensure that Sanral complies to its payment terms to investors, as well as to maintain the toll network across the country, funds were transferred from the non-toll network to the toll network. However, the department is working to resolve the issue of the GFIP speedily.”
E-tolls: Where is the money coming from?
The money has been taken from the Medium-term budget appropriation. It’s important to note that this money was not taken from the Treasury. Instead, money that was set aside for mid-term spending back in October 2018 will now go towards the e-tolls system, which continues to fail upwards.
Despite several promises from local government – including Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who vowed to rid the system from the province – it seems that national structures of the ANC have had the final word.