Government to introduce new vehicle taxes to push people towards public transport

The Department of Transport has published its Green Transport Strategy for 2018 – 2050, which lays out plans for new taxes, and changes to existing ones.

The strategy outlines the department’s plans for the road, rail and aviation sectors, with a focus on the country’s international commitments to reduce emissions.

In addition to a number of broader strategies  – such as encouraging a push towards renewable energy vehicles – the document outlines some formal regulatory changes which are likely to have a direct impact on South African motorists.

“Road infrastructure is affected by several factors, but most importantly environmental factors, the volume of vehicles and the weight of the vehicles on the road,” the department said.

“All roads are built with an intended life cycle, but with the impact of the traffic load, as well as the environment (heat, cold, rainfall etc.) the deterioration rate is accelerated.”

Because of these challenges, the department said that it will prepare regulatory actions targeted at encouraging the modal shift from road to rail and from private vehicle use to public transport.

To do this, the department said it will look at new taxes and levies – or make changes to the current taxes and levies that are already in place.

These are outlined below.

Congestion tax

In consultation with local government, the department said that it will assist with ‘the development of regulatory and policy frameworks’ for levying a congestion charge on vehicles entering central business hubs.

In this case, international best practice with regard to congestion zone taxing will be taken into account, it said.

“Congestion zone taxing, however, will require supporting infrastructure – park and rides, integrated eco-mobility transport facilities, as well as bike and car share scheme development.”

Environmental levy

In consultation with stakeholders and the National Treasury, the DoT plans to review the current levels of the environmental levy on new motor vehicle CO2 emissions and expand the tax to include commercial vehicles to more effectively influence energy efficiency and the environmental performance of the country’s vehicle fleet.

Licensing system 

The DoT plans to develop a ‘regulatory regime’ in consultation with National Treasury for the annual taxing of vehicles based on their emissions through the annual car licensing renewal system.

It added that it also plans to ‘enhance the regulatory regime’ to include a three-yearly test on vehicles that covers roadworthiness and exhaust emissions.

“The test certificate will need to be produced every three years of car licensing renewal,” it said. “The test scores will be used to adjudicate a price relative to safety and emissions performance.”

Fuel labels

The use of vehicle fuel economy norms and standards to label vehicles in terms of their fuel efficiency and emission standards will continue, the DoT said.

“Baseline studies on the implementation of more stringent fuel economy standards (such as Euro V) should lead to the adoption of appropriate greener standards.”

Car life limits

The DoT said that it plans to introduce car lifecycle limits on the road.

While it did not provide exact details of what this will entail, it indicated that a car with an engine with more than 400,000 km should be banned from the road, or scrapped – similar to the current taxi recap system.


In consultation with cities, the DoT said it will assist with the development of regulations to ensure that freight vehicles may only enter urban hubs during off-peak hours.

“Research will also be conducted into the viability of re-introducing ‘road freight permits’ in South Africa with permit pricing reflecting the emissions for tonne cargo of freight vehicles, as well as road-use charges to internalise the externalities of possible overloading from freight haulers,” it said.

Road construction

The DoT will develop green standards and guidelines for road construction, maintenance and upgrades.

“This will include standards and guidelines on climate change resilient materials,” it said.

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