Gauteng premier David Makhura has again passed the buck on the e-tolls to the national government, saying they are the only authority that can address the issue. He however indicated that his administration had learned from previous mistakes and they will not be tolling new roads.
"We are mobilising resources for public transport infrastructure in ways that will ensure that we don't commit the same mistakes done with the e-tolls. We can't build roads and only later inform citizens that they must pay. In fact, there will not be e-tolls on our new roads," he said.
Makhura in his State of the Province Address on Monday admitted that they had tried in vain to deal with e-tolls.
"I must admit publicly, as I did last year, that all the efforts we have made through the advisory panel have not led to the resolution of concerns of Gauteng motorists regarding affordability. We have tried our best. The ultimate solution can only come from the national level. We will continue to engage in order to represent the interests of our residents," he said.
E-tolls have been a burning issue in the province since they were installed on Gauteng's freeways. The public opposition saw the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and various organisations taking to the streets but while toll fees dropped, the decision to toll remained.
Plans were also in the pipeline to establish the same system in Cape Town but that was met by serious resistance and a court case.
Makhura has now seemingly thrown in the towel on the matter and passed the buck to the national government, which is legally responsible for the tolls.
"We have tried our best. There are many mayors who have made announcements that they will do their best. The truth is that the matter can only be addressed by the national government," he said.
Admitting his failure to deal with e-tolls, Makhura bounced back with some good news for residents of the province saying the Gautrain service will be expanded. The feasibility study on the expansion of the Gautrain and its full integration into the broader modern public transport system of the province has been completed.
"The new areas that will be covered will include Mamelodi in Tshwane, Boksburg in Ekurhuleni, Randburg-Lanseria in Johannesburg, Mogale City and Syferfontein in the West Rand and Roodepoort/Jabulani. This expansion will primarily be done on a public-private partnership basis, in phases that will take a period of two decades to complete," he said.