The cost of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) will escalate from the ticket price of R20bn to R32bn due to interest payments over the next couple of years, says Transport Sibusiso Ndebele.
Delivering his department's budget vote speech In Parliament on Wednesday, Ndebele pointed out that there were just five days to go before the controversial system became fully operational.
He said that the country had to meet its obligation to pay the debt incurred in improving the roads otherwise it would affect the country's credit rating.
"This is important to note particularly because as a country we borrow at least R10bn a week to service our budget deficit, state debt and meet the financial obligations of state-owned companies," Ndebele said.
Ndebele also pointed out in his speech that the GFIP was aimed at the 800 000 vehicles that regularly used the tolled roads.
"SA is estimated to have about 9.7 million vehicles. About 2.5 million of these are estimated to be in Gauteng. Of these 2.5 million, only 800 000 travel regularly on the tolled road that accounts for only 185km of SA's overall 750 000km road network," he said.Encouraged by e-tag sales
Countering public proposals that the project should be paid for out of the fuel levy, Ndebele said that people who did not use those roads regularly should not be expected to pay as it would be unfair.
Ndebele said he was encouraged by the sale of e-tags, of which more than 500 000 had been sold, and that it was a sign that people were cooperating.
He said that it was also important to note that some people who resided in Gauteng would still not be affected by the introduction of e-tolling.
"For instance, a teacher who resides and works in Soweto who never travels on the tolled road network need not be concerned, as he or she doesn't utilise the road on a regular basis like someone who resides in Pretoria but works in Johannesburg," Ndebele said.
He conceded that government had "...learned very valuable lessons out of this process."
Ndebele made no mention of the current court case being heard in the Pretoria High Court that was brought by a coalition of people against the charge.