You won’t believe how government celebrated the end of eTolls

  • Government officials celebrated the end of their own failed eToll system with a countdown clock and photo-ops as if it was New Year’s Eve.
  • eTolls were finally scrapped as of midnight on Thursday, but motorists will still have to pay outstanding fees.
  • The failed system is estimated to have cost taxpayers nearly R2 billion every year it has been implemented.

Friday this week represents the end of the much-maligned eTolls for Gauteng drivers. For more than a decade of being a government money sink and a sore spot for motorists around the province, the bright blue light gantries were finally shut off at midnight on Thursday.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi and other government officials such as the Transport Minister Sindiswa Chikunga and Gauteng MEC Kedibone Diale-Tlabela, were on hand at midnight at the Buccleuch Interchange gantry to celebrate the symbolic shutting down of the eToll system.

As if the ball was dropping at the turn of the New Year, government officials set up a YouTube countdown video to midnight, and Lesufi threw up the horns the moment eTolls were shut down. Flashing cameras and smiles all around as the scourge of eTolls was finally stamped out.

Only, and lest we all forget, it was the ANC administration and the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), led by the Minister of Transport, that imposed eTolls in 2013. Last night, these government officials celebrated the conclusion of their own failure, and the squandering of billions of taxpayer monies without a single shred of self-awareness.

According to the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), it is estimated that eTolls cost the South African taxpayer R1.7 billion every year they were in operation. So without interest added or taking into account inflation, they cost the country at least R18.7 billion in the last 11 years.

In regards to the money eTolls were making back, only 10 or 12 percent of the Gauteng motorists were paying their eToll bills. But the killing of the system is not the end of the payments, nor is the eToll money sink closed forever. In fact, SANRAL will be looking to get those who have not paid their eToll bills to cough up.

The end of eTolls is a victory for the people, not the government

The scrapping of the eTolls is not a victory for the government as Lesufi and other government officials would like you to believe. It is a victory for the citizens of Gauteng, who put their money where their mouth was and quietly protested the poorly planned and implemented system by resisting payments.

As OUTA put it earlier this month, “Litigation, civil disobedience and public empowerment campaigns played a significant role, the overall collapse was due to a combination of civil activism and gross overreach by Sanral, whose grandiose plan was shrouded in arrogance and heavy with administrative complexities.”

“It was always going to fail in the long run, once the public realised its power and refused to give in to the existence of an abusive government scheme… The entire saga has also been a testament to the resilience of civil society and the importance of holding those in power accountable,” the organisation said.


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