General: E-toll issue nearing the end of the road?

The controversial e-tolls in Gauteng may soon be scrapped, suggests a report in The Star. It quotes Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula as saying the department would be scrapping the tolls, and engagements between his department, Treasury and Parliament are under way to the resolve e-tolls matter. The report notes there has been massive resistance to e-tolls with a large number of Gauteng motorists refusing to pay and chalking up hundreds of thousands of rands in arrears. National government has in turn flip-flopped on the issue for years despite opposition, even from the ANC-led Gauteng provincial government. ‘We are resolving the demands of scrapping e-tolls, regardless of the financial implications which will affect the country, e-tolls will be resolved,’ Mbalula said, indicating that government was at last buckling to public pressure. However, notes Legalbrief, the fact that local government elections are around the corner won't be lost on more cynical motorists who by now have heard it all.

Meanwhile, AG Tsakani Maluleke claims Sanral could face difficulties staying in business unless the e-toll issue is resolved. A Business Day report says while Sanral received an unqualified audit opinion in the 2020/2021 annual report tabled in Parliament last week, Maluleke flagged the accumulated loss of about R14.4bn by 31 March (slightly down from about R15bn the previous year) and expected credit losses of close to R10bn, as the company struggles to collect debt. ‘Sanral’s funding strategy for the next 12 months relating to toll operations is dependent on positive developments to resolve the e-toll impasse by Cabinet. These events or conditions, along with other matters, indicate that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on Sanral’s ability to continue as a going concern,’ Maluleke said in the report. The Sanral board said it is confident, however, that the agency will remain in business and funds will be available to finance future operations and settle liabilities and other commitments that occur. It cited total current assets of R31bn, compared with liabilities of about R22bn.

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