Panyaza Lesufi, Premier of Gauteng.
Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi announced on Tuesday that the province and its residents will contribute R12.9 billion to pay off the debt accumulated by the National Highway Agency SA (Sanral) in the construction of the Highway Improvement Project. from Gauteng.
The debt skyrocketed from an initial cost of R17.4 billion to R43 billion after road users refused to pay electronic tolls. In his medium-term budget policy statement last month, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said the national government would pay 70% of the debt and the province 30%.
READ | EXPLAINER | The life and death of electronic tolls
Lesufi said the province would use “different sources of revenue in the form of a hybrid model” to raise the necessary funds. Earlier this month, he announced that electronic tolls would be removed, but that Gauteng residents, as road users, would have to pay GFIP costs.
The provincial government will undergo a consultation process with Gauteng residents on the hybrid model.
The provincial government will negotiate a long-term payment period on 30% of the debt, whose terms will be advised by a technical team.
“A long-term payment period will ensure that we ease the pressure on the provincial government’s treasury while maintaining the delivery of social services and other imperatives such as fighting crime,” Lesufi said.
The R12.9 billion does not include maintenance costs for the system which, under the agreement with Godongwana, will now fall to Gauteng province. Maintenance costs are estimated to be around R2 billion a year for the next three years.
Funding for maintenance is still under discussion, Lesufi said.
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