e-Tolls are here to stay if the National Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, is to be believed. Mbalula recently used the argument that tolling is required to maintain roads and has back-tracked on his original position that e-Tolls must be scrapped.
At the same time, Mbalula is throwing Gauteng Premier David Makhura under the proverbial bus who made a very definite promise that e-Tolls will be scrapped. Makhura yet again broke a promise to the people of Gauteng.
The economic impact of e-Tolls of Gauteng is dire. It increases transport costs, particularly for the poor, who need to access job opportunities. It also has an inflationary impact that contributes to the rising prices of consumer goods like food. e-Tolling is a drag on the Gauteng economy and must be scrapped if we have any hope of growing a Covid-19 depressed economy that creates jobs.
Mbalula’s utterances has confirmed what the DA has been maintaining all along, that the National Cabinet is not in support of scrapping e-Tolls as the government can no longer afford it. Between Covid-19 and massive corruption, the fiscus cannot afford to take over the loans used to upgrade roads and install the e-Toll system.
There is no way Makhura can promise himself and his ANC government out of e-Tolls ahead of the 2021 local government elections, as he did in 2014, 2016 and ahead of the 2019 national elections.
It is time for Gauteng residents to vote with their highest protest in these elections and send a clear message to the ANC and Makhura that their time in government is done and that they need to start packing their bags. Their promises are no longer credible.
A DA government will push even harder to get rid of e-Tolls including declaring a formal dispute with the national government to get rid of this economy-crushing system. A step Makhura refused to use.
Whether in government or in opposition, the DA will not rest until e-Tolls are gone, just as we drove the issue of state capture for 13 years, so will we continue with opposing e-Tolls.