E-tolls to be ‘switched off’ from 31 March – Lesufi

The formal process to switch off and delink e-tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) will begin on 31 March 2024, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi announced on Wednesday night.

Delivering his Gauteng State of the Province Address (Sopa), Lesufi said e-tolls will then “be history in our province”.


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Lesufi did not provide any details on whether motorists who had paid their e-tolls would be refunded, as he previously indicated, or where Gauteng would obtain the finances to pay for the province’s portion of the e-toll debt or for the future maintenance of the GFIP network.

He confirmed on Monday night that meetings were held with all affected parties, including Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana and Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, and “all of us have now reached an agreement that by 31 March 2024 the formal process to switch off and delink e-tolls will begin and e-tolls will be history in our province”.

That meeting is believed to have taken place on 26 January 2024 and reached agreement on:

  • Issues related to the user-pay-principle quantum of GFIP debt;
  • The quantum of sunken capital expenditure costs;
  • The capital expenditure obligations of the Gauteng province;
  • The yearly maintenance costs of the GFIP 1;
  • The repurposing of the e-toll gantries;
  • The repayment of SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) GFIP debt; and
  • The future funding of GFIP 2 and 3.

Lesufi said Godongwana “will elaborate on this subject” without indicating when, but presumably in his budget speech on Wednesday.

The discussions and negotiations over the scrapping of the GFIP e-tolls follow Godongwana stating in his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) speech in October 2022 that to resolve the funding impasse over the GFIP e-toll scheme, the Gauteng Provincial Government had agreed to contribute 30% to settling Sanral’s GFIP debt and interest obligations, while national government covers 70%.

Lesufi subsequently confirmed in November 2022 that the total amount to be paid by the provincial government was R12.9 billion – 30% of R43 billion – using different revenue streams in the form of a hybrid model.

Godongwana said at the time Gauteng will also cover the costs of maintaining the 201km and associated interchanges of the roads while any additional investment in the roads would be funded through either the existing electronic toll infrastructure or new toll plazas, or any other revenue source within their area of responsibility.

In the MTBPS, R23.7 billion was allocated to Sanral to pay off government-guaranteed debt, but this allocation was conditional on a solution to Phase 1 of the GFIP.

In an exclusive interview with Moneyweb in October last year, Lesufi denied saying that motorists who had paid their e-tolls would be refunded.

Read: Lesufi backtracks on e-tolls refund plans

702 Eyewitness News reported in January this year that Lesufi had confirmed that almost R6.9 billion will be refunded to motorists who have been paying for e-tolls on the GFIP.

Lesufi added that the Gauteng government decided to take over responsibility for GFIP national roads, which is normally Sanral’s responsibility because, if it did not, the debt would keep ballooning without there being any way to stop it.

He confirmed that among the five issues they had been working on was the possibility of responsibility for the GFIP national roads being transferred back to Sanral at some point in the future and an additional allocation to the Gauteng government from National Treasury to manage and maintain the GFIP national roads.

New number plates for all provinces

Lesufi also provided an update on the planned new vehicle number plate system for Gauteng.

He said stolen and hijacked cars are central to crimes that are committed in Gauteng, adding that the majority of these vehicles use fake and duplicate number plates.

“Fortunately, the current number plate system that we have is running out of numeric letters, and we need to introduce new number plates in our province so that we can strengthen our fight against crime.

“The National Department of Transport has developed a draft legislation to ensure that this introduction is common across all the nine provinces.

“As soon as the Minister of Transport finalises this legislation, Gauteng will be ready to introduce new number plates to avoid criminals using wrong things to commit crimes in our province,” he said.

It is believed that Gauteng will from 1 April 2024 pilot the new number plates, which include a track and trace system, with this pilot project first rolled out on government vehicles and later to the general public when the minister of transport finalises the bill.

Zama zamas

Lesufi touched on a wide variety of issues in his Sopa, including illegal mining, the introduction of the National Health Insurance (NHI) and load shedding.

He claimed they have “broken the backbone” of zama zamas (illegal miners) in Gauteng.


Lesufi said this followed a meeting he had with President Cyril Ramaphosa, which resulted in the deployment of almost 800 soldiers to assist in the task from November 2023 to January 2024.

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He said these soldiers ensured that all the zama zamas have been displaced, with 840 zama zamas arrested and deported and almost 2 000 illegal miners removed from Boksburg, Dobsonville, Kagiso, Khutsong, and Krugersdorp.

Hospitals for National Health Insurance

Lesufi urged Ramaphosa to sign the NHI bill so that everyone can have access to quality health care in Gauteng.

“We are ready to improve our hospitals so that we can deal with this.

“With the assistance of Workers Investment Portfolio, we have just signed an agreement that will see the Gauteng government buying back 18 private hospitals in our province, and we will convert them to public hospitals so that we are ready for the National Health Insurance.

“We believe this investment will go a long way to ensure our health system is improved in our province,” he said.

Power plans

Lefusi said Gauteng is also working on plans to eradicate load shedding in the province.

He said it is ready, from 1 April 2024, to release 100MW of electricity back to the grid through its partnership with City Power, and in the next financial year will increase this to 300MW.

He announced that the long-term plan with the Sibanye-Stillwater board has resulted in the approval of the land leases of the six independent power producers (IPPs) that will develop a photovoltaic power station in Merafong Local Municipality.

“This is designed to harvest at least 800 megawatts of solar power and supply it to the electricity grid, which will be a game changer for our province,” he said.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said during his Sopa on Monday the Western Cape is well on its way to becoming the first load shedding-free province in the country.

Winde said almost R7 billion in total is being spent over the next three years to make the Western Cape energy resilient.

He said this amount is made up of more than R1 billion from the province, R3.9 billion from the City of Cape Town and R1.9 billion being spent by other municipalities across the province to enable the private sector and households to find solutions.

Winde said they are seeing a solar and wind energy surge in the province being led by private households and businesses, including:

  • Three 75MW solar farms will be based in the Touws River area;
  • Atlantis Foundries and its energy partner are working together on an extensive embedded solar initiative; and
  • Prescient Investment Management and H1 Holdings are investing in a solar project that will be radiating power into the province’s system next year that could power up to 100 000 homes.

Winde said the Western Cape is estimated to have lost between R48.6 billion and R61.2 billion in real GDP since load shedding was first thrust upon the province.

He added that the real GDP lost to the Western Cape in 2022 was estimated at R8.2 billion, with the estimated cost of load shedding on the province’s economy in Stage 4 amounting to R43 million per day, and at higher stages, even more.

Source: moneyweb.co.za