Government Seeks Solutions In GFIP Debacle

Johannesburg - A speedy solution was needed to end the impasse over the implementation of the e-tolling system in Gauteng's main freeways, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Friday.

"There is a recognition that many of our people are poor and at the current economic situation, they should not be overburdened by extra costs but at the same time SANRAL (SA National Roads Agency Limited) needs capital to continue doing its work," he said ahead of a meeting with trade union federation COSATU.

The meeting is part of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), of on-going consultations with civil society and business. The committee has previously met with other bodies, including Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA), which asked the courts to halt the implementation of the e-tolls. COSATU had earlier this year organised a march against the implementation of e-tolls in Gauteng.

Motlanthe, who was accompanied by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, said Cabinet had decided to embark on the consultation process because it became clear that there was opposition to the system and that "we come in the spirit of finding a workable solution to the challenge". The Treasury is opposing a court order setting aside the implementation of the project.

"We have open minds to listen… the idea is for us to explore the best possible solution to this challenge," Motlanthe said.

He said government could not afford to risk SANRAL's creditworthiness. SANRAL wants to use the money collected from e-tolling to repay a R20 billion loan it received for the GFIP.

Motlanthe said: "Being creditworthy means that you are able to service your debt and you are able to pay your capital loans and if SANRAL cannot pay its debt, it will mean that they can't be creditworthy. It is for this reason that we have said let us give SANRAL the support it deserves.

COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi accepted that SANRAL "cannot walk away from the debt".

"We accept that the debt is there but we have said there could be other alternatives we can explore and we will have discussions on these today."