Cross-border drivers will pay e-tolls

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IOL mot pic dec24 E-Toll Gantry

INLSA

Sanral is fine-tuning its system to ensure drivers from neighbouring countries cough up. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

The South African National Roads Agency is working on an automated system to ensure that drivers from neighbouring countries cannot drive on Gauteng highways without paying e-tolls.

Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said the agency was working on a “very urgent” automated system that would ensure cross-border visitors did not leave the country without paying.

Currently, visitors to the province can buy a day-pass.

“We are working with a cross-border agency to educate people, especially truck drivers that will go through Gauteng, about the e-tags,” Mona said.

“Our cameras can take a picture from any angle.”

“We will use that and link it across borders when they are going back to their countries.”

Mona said the drivers would then pay the fees at border posts when exiting South Africa. Day tags cost between R30 and R250. They can be bought 30 days before the trip but are only valid for 24 hours once activated.

Cars may purchase a day pass only 12 times a year, which means that frequent visitors to Gauteng need to buy e-tags.

Mona said visitors who did not want to buy a day pass could register an account with Sanral.

“This will be cheaper than paying for a day pass.”

“You do not have to buy an e-tag, just register an account with your vehicle registration. You can then pay online or at one of our offices along e-toll roads. Let’s say you drove from Seshego to Soweto. You will only use about two or three gantries and pay about R15.30 instead of R50.”

Mona said visitors to Gauteng had been buying day passes.

“The December traffic is subdued because people are on holiday. Gauteng is not a holiday destination so the figures are not a genuine reflection of the situation. We’ll have a more meaningful trend at the end of January.”

Sanral has said that refusal to pay e-tolls was not just a traffic violation but a criminal offence.

Mona earlier said the law did not force anyone to have an e-tag but there was a legal obligation to pay the e-tolls if you drive under a gantry.

Meanwhile, Justice Project SA said Sanral was misleading the public by saying failure to pay toll fees was against the law, regardless of whether an invoice had been issued or not.

Justice Project chairman Howard Dembovsky said the regulation was clear on invoices.

“It says Sanral must issue an invoice to any person from whom it requires payment of outstanding e-tolls.

“The word ‘must’ in legislation is a prescriptive word which places a duty on the party against whom it is applied,” he said.

Dembovsky said the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act decriminalised road traffic offences, including non-payment of tolls.

“Therefore if Aarto is applied to speed fines on the freeways then it applies to all minor infringements such as non-payment of toll fees.”

INCOMPETENT HANDLING

The department of transport should be aware that Aarto specifically decriminalised traffic violations and no one could be guilty of a criminal offence for non-payment as Sanral claimed, he said.

“Justice Project SA will not relent in exposing Sanral’s incompetent handling of e-tolling, and Vusi Mona’s constant misleading threats against the public,” Dembovsky said.

Mona said all the signs posted along the tolled roads indicated that payment had to be made within seven days.

“Sanral is using legally available resources at its disposal to contact vehicle owners. We are issuing notices, with invoices to follow, to alert road users that they have outstanding debt.”

MISTAKES IN TARIFFS

As for Mona’s statement that “it is regrettable that some organisations are still contesting the legality of e-tolling outside court processes”, the Justice Project noted it had challenged the department of transport to obtain a declaratory order deeming the provisions of the e-tolling laws to be valid in light of the “mistakes” in the e-toll tariffs published in the Government Gazette.

“If Sanral chooses not to obtain this clarity, Dembovsky said, “it runs the risk of forcing citizens to approach the courts to do so.

“In the long run this could cost Sanral much more than fixing the error now. But it has never been Sanral’s style to admit to being wrong.”

“INACCURATE AND JUVENILE”

Dembovsky said Mona’s threats that “getting a job, renting a vehicle or accommodation, getting a loan, being a company director, getting promoted - all are directly and negatively affected” by non-payment of e-tolling were inaccurate and juvenile.

“Sanral’s attitude is loathsome, especially in light of the fact that the Aarto Act decriminalises road traffic offences which includes non-payment of tolls.”

But Sanral said the justice project was confusing Aarto and the Criminal Procedures Act.

“Non-payment of tolls is a criminal offence,” it insisted and enforcement will be done in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act and not Aarto.” - Pretoria News


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