Cape Town - Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Tuesday announced a “reprieve” for the users of Gauteng's toll roads.
Opening debate in Parliament on her department's budget, she told MPs this was being done “to make it easier for people to comply” with e-tolls.
The concessions included a “further extension of the payment period to avoid the VPC process that would negatively affect vehicle owners”.
Peters said users would “have an extended payment period of 51 days, from the day they pass through the gantry, as opposed to the current seven days”.
They would also receive the time-of-day discount.
“A non-registered user will receive 60 percent off the alternative tariff if they pay within 51 days.”
For registered users, the following “reprieves” would be introduced:
- a 48 percent e-tag-holder discount,
- time-of-day discounts,
- frequent-user discounts and
- a “R450 calendar-month cap for class A2/light vehicles”.
Peters said, to applause from ruling party benches, that she trusted the concessions “will go some way towards lessening the financial burden on the part of users”.
She also told the House that the user-pay principle remained a policy of government.
“We urge the users of the tolled Gauteng road network to continue contributing towards the building of a better South Africa, to move our country forward."
She urged those who were not registered for e-tolls to do so, including MPs.
“It is our responsibility, as a collective of lawmakers, to make sure that we encourage South Africans to be responsible for that which they would want to have.”
Speaking later in the debate, DA MP Manny de Freitas told Peters the public had unanimously rejected e-tolls.
“This issue has been handled poorly from the very beginning,” he said.
Labelling the review announced last week by Gauteng premier David Makhura as “nothing more than a public relations stunt”, he called on the minister to appoint a parliamentary committee to review e-tolling.
He also challenged her to tell the House “if Sanral still intends to pursue the prosecution and criminalisation of some one million people who have not paid their e-toll bills”.
Earlier on Tuesday, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said prosecutors had been appointed to work with the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to deal with non-payment of e-toll tariffs.
“We have assigned two prosecutors to work with Sanral with the view to establish whether the activities by some motorists constitute an offence in terms of the Sanral Act,” NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube said.
“Section 27(5)(a) makes it an offence to refuse or fail to pay the amount of toll that is due and is punishable on conviction with imprisonment or a fine.”
The e-toll system was implemented across Gauteng on December 3, following several court challenges and widespread public opposition.
Many motorists have refused to get an e-tag or pay their e-tolls.
Last week, Makhura announced a panel of 15 people appointed to assess the socio-economic impact of e-tolls in the province.
The panel, which will meet for the first time on Thursday, will assess the effect of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project on the economy and on Gauteng residents.
It would invite proposals and submissions from residents on proposed solutions. The panel would submit its findings and recommendations to the provincial government.