Durban - Toll plazas in KwaZulu-Natal are being equipped to accept e-tags as the South African National Roads Agency Limiited prepares for the national roll out of electronic tolling.
Sanral said it had not decided on the exact date when e-tolling would go live in the province.
This was in response to questions following a speech by Sanral boss Nazir Alli in Durban last week.
The agency siad: “Electronic toll collection does not replace existing toll plazas. It is a tool that toll plazas will use in addition to current methods of payment.
“By obtaining an e-tag and registering it, e-tolling allows an account-holder to use the same e-tag and e-toll account to pay toll fees at any toll plaza equipped to accept e-tags.”
Motorists would not be compelled to obtain an e-tag, but they would be encouraged “to enjoy the benefits” of quicker passage through payment points.
In Alli’s presentation to the Progressive Professionals’ Forum last Thursday, he said e-tags reduced congestion as road-users did not have to stop at booths.
“We want to get to a stage where one can use the same e-tag to pay at all toll plazas. The system is already working on the Bakwena roads (N1/ N4 in Gauteng) where there are dedicated lanes for those who use e-tags,” he said.
Alli declined to say exactly when e-tolling would be implemented in KwaZulu-Natal, but, he said, the N1 from Johannesburg to Cape Town was likely to be next.
The provincial and local governments would decide and public consultation would have to be done ahead of the implementation of e-tolls.
Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Andrew Layman said there was no problem with the introduction of electronic tolls at existing toll plazas.
“The chamber’s new policy on tolling states that, if commuter routes into the city were tolled, we would be in strong opposition to it.”
He said the chamber opposed the Wild Coast toll plan.
“Sanral can’t build a toll plaza or e-toll gantry at Isipingo as part of the plan, because it would increase the costs for south Durban commuters and would be unfair for Durban people to pay for a road through to the Eastern Cape,” Layman said.
He said if there was a “Durban Freeway Improvement Project” (like Gauteng), where existing urban roads were tolled because of major upgrades and maintenance, the chamber would be against it.
For example, it would strongly oppose a toll on the M4 or the N2 between Durban and uMhlanga.
“However, we support the user-pays principle for major new road transport routes or road infrastructure projects that have huge capital costs. A new freight route from the proposed dig-out port to the N3, for example, is bound to be tolled…
“For the maintenance of roads and their extension in urban areas, we believe the fuel levy is the best option,” Layman said.
But, Ian Ollis, the DA’s transport spokesman, was concerned that the introduction of e-tolls would see more tolls being developed.
”With Sanral’s move to ultimately have e-tolling at all toll booths, the opportunity is there for it to introduce a more extensive tolling network in the country, even in other major urban centres,” he said.