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Gauteng drivers appear to be rejecting e-tolling in their numbers, with the government collecting just nine percent of almost R500 million expected in revenue.
Transport minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday only R50 043 487 of the R500 million was actually recovered.
She was responding to two parliamentary questions that DA transport spokesman Ian Ollis posed in March.
The extent of non-payment prompted the DA representative to say on Wednesday: “This means the people of Gauteng are effectively rejecting e-tolls in their numbers.”
He said Peters’ reply clearly revealed that South Africans did not want e-tolls.
“It also reveals the costs of the administrative nightmare that has been debt-collecting over the past couple of months,” he said.
Ollis had asked Peters: “(a) What is the value of the total revenue transferred to the South African National Roads Agency Limited violations processing centre as at the latest specified date for which information is available and (b) What percentage of the revenue in the VPC has been collected?”
The minister’s response was that “as at February 28”, the total revenue transferred to the violations processing centre was R543 544 574, of which R50 043 487 had been paid. She said 9.21 percent had been collected.
The outstanding payments were from registered and non-registered e-toll road users.
Ollis said R32.7 million had been forked out on printing and posting e-toll invoices to Gauteng motorists and another R21.9 million on collecting the debt.
According to Sanral, the types of fees road users pay can be divided into three:
The e-tag tariff, which is paid by registered e-tag users.
The standard tariff for road users who are not registered but pay within seven days after driving under a gantry, the seven-day grace period.
The alternate user tariff, paid by road users after expiry of the seven-day grace period.
The cases of road users who do not pay are handled by the VPC, and if that debt-collection process fails, people are then prosecuted through the Criminal Procedure Act.
In essence, this means people who use the e-toll roads without paying are committing a criminal offence.
Reaction to the non-payment on social media suggested that even the threat of being criminally charged does little, if anything, to convince Gauteng drivers to pay up.
Rain_Child (@Rain_Child1) tweeted: “…#SANRAL #eTolls #Retards better build bigger prisons then!!!!! They need to accommodate us all!!”
Zwelinzima Vavi (@Zwelinzima1) wrote: “They can intimidate some (10 percent) but will not intimidate all.”
Justice Project SA (@JPSAorg) tweeted: “The #Gauteng economy is going to do just great with hundreds of thousands of its citizens in jail for outstanding #eTolls eh?”
Meanwhile, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance said it welcomed a clarification by Johannesburg metro police that unpaid e-toll bills would not lead to the withholding of vehicle licence registrations, as some motorists were led to believe.
Outa said the explanation that there was no legislation that prohibited motorists from renewing their vehicle licences if they had outstanding e-toll bills was the “first unambiguous statement from any authority that we have heard on a major issue of confusion surrounding e-toll bills”.
Spokesman John Clarke said: It will not please Sanral to have the ambiguity clarified, as the threat of withholding a vehicle licence, along with bad-debt and criminal records, has caused many motorists to contact Outa seeking reassurance.”
He said that instead of developing a non-criminal form of sanction, Sanral had opted for the “big-stick approach by legislating that the non-payment of e-tolls would be regarded as a criminal offence”.
“Alas it has totally backfired,” Clarke said.