The South African government is considering scrapping the new road tolls in parts of the country due to mass protests against e-tolling.
The government had planned to implement new road fees around Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, but would shelve the plan following nationwide protests against e-tolling that is set to take effect on April for roads around Johannesburg, City Press said on Sunday, citing a senior government source.
The projects to be scrapped include the second phase of the Gauteng freeway improvement, the report said. The only new toll road which would proceed would be the N2 in the Eastern Cape. But only two toll booths would be built, one at each end of the road, so local traffic would not have to pay, according to the report. “The public protest was successful in this respect,” the source said.
However, the Gauteng tolling scheme would not be scrapped completely, the source was quoted as saying. “If we cancel this project, SANRAL (the SA National Roads Agency) is liable for 37-billion-rand (4.9-billion-dollar) debt... We are just going to push ahead,” the source told the paper. The government said road tolling is meant to pay for loans used to upgrade highways. But opponents said e-tolling”represents yet another tax on all the citizens of this country”.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which organized the nationwide protests, has vowed to seek other ways to block e-tolling, including shutting down Gauteng’s highways, if the government did not change its plan.