E-tolls: Sanral happy with complianceComment on this story
Pretoria - Despite reports and public perception to the contrary, the SA National Roads Agency says it is satisfied with the level of compliance with e-tolling, almost two months after the gantries went live.
Sanral borrowed R20 billion to fund the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which resulted in the introduction of e-tolling to raise money to repay the debt.
The system has been marred by controversy since it was launched early in December, raising fears that low compliance would result in Sanral battling to meet its financial requirements, including servicing its debt.
At the centre of the storm is questionable billing with some bills being sent to the wrong people.
Some complaints have been filed with the office of the public protector and on social media platforms regarding the billing system, while the Freedom Front Plus has indicated it will challenge the system in court because it is unconstitutional.
The party also urged motorists not to comply pending the outcome of the legal process.
The Sanral operations centre in Midrand has been evacuated three times in a week following acts of sabotage by people unhappy with the system.
However, spokesman Vusi Mona said the state utility was satisfied with the level of compliance to date.
“Not only are we satisfied with e-tag registrations, but also non-registered payments,” he said.
But Mona would not reveal the amount of money collected so far.
He said project details such as these would be shared on a quarterly basis.
“With regards to the financials on the project, these will be released annually once they have been audited,” he said.
“We are required by law to table our annual report to Parliament and financial information on the project will be included in that report.”
Asked if the money would be enough for Sanral to meet its financial obligations for the highway improvement project, he said: “Yes. In fact, it is marginally above expectation.”
Mona also squashed rumours that the general road infrastructure would be neglected and not be maintained as Sanral directed money towards funding the e-toll debt. He said non-tolled roads were funded from the fiscus and were ring-fenced.
He added: “The grant from government cannot be used for tolled roads, including Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project network.
“If income is slower on toll roads it means maintenance actions on roads may be delayed.”
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance spokesman John Clarke has meanwhile disputed that e-tolling has been a success and that people are complying.
Clarke said such comments indicated that Sanral was not seeing the warning signs of a discontented society.
Such self-deception risked inviting unintended consequences, he said.
“Respect for the law is not something that you can command.”
“We do not live in the Dark Ages where people were treated like passive projects.
“E-tolling cannot be sustained by manipulation of emotions. Only willing consent and acceptance by the people will make the system viable.”
AfriForum Youth has launched an online petition to mobilise students against the e-tolling system.
A spokeswoman at the University of Pretoria, Rochelle Oosthuyse, said most students did not earn an income.
“Those who do, have an unpredictable income that is far below the tax threshold,” she said. “The aim of the petition is to make government and Sanral realise that most students simply do not have enough money to pay e-tolls.”
Oosthuyse said the petition, on the organisation’s website, was also aimed at reaching out to students at universities in Gauteng, the North West and the Free State.