In what appears to be a charm offensive to calm tempers over Gauteng’s e-tolling system, Sanral claims most people will pay less than R200 a month, a calculation based on data it has collected over the past two months.
And the National Department of Transport says it may consider granting further exemptions to motorists, according to its director general George Mahlalela.
Mahlalela was reluctant to give The Sunday Independent details, but said any such exemption would be based on “economic conditions”.
He said Transport Minister Ben Martins was still looking through submissions made by members of the public in the latest round of public consultations, and was considering whether there was a need for further exemptions.
“We’ve already exonerated public transport. We are now looking at additional categories of users,” said Mahlalela. “We are talking about the disabled, and rental companies. (Car rental companies) own vehicles but they lease them to you. We want to streamline that so that we have a structured payment regime,” he said.
This comes after Pretoria High Court Judge Louis Vorster ruled last week that it was not up to the courts to decide on matters of the national executive.
The decision came as a major blow to the opposition alliance Outa and Cosatu, who have vowed to fight to the bitter end and urged motorists not to buy e-tags in a show of civil disobedience.
Sanral has not indicated when it will go ahead with the system, but it is understood that it will probably be in the first quarter of next year.
But speaking to The Sunday Independent on Friday, Sanral CEO Nazir Alli said 78 percent of class A vehicles would pay less than R100.
He said gantries along Gauteng highways had been collecting data on approximately 2.5 million cars a month for the past two months and his calculations are based on the tariff of 30c/km with discounts which were gazetted in October.
The data, said Alli, was the first true picture of what consumers were likely to pay for e-tolls.
“We photographed every car that goes under a gantry. This is not dependant on whether you have an e-tag. We can tell what route you have taken, what time you passed under a gantry. We can tell whether you were speeding or not and if you have a cloned number plate, we can report it to the cops and they will stop you in 20 minutes,” Alli said.
FEW WILL REACH R550 CAP
According to Alli, of the class A vehicles (ordinary sedans) which passed under gantries in the past two months, only:
- 13 percent will pay between R100 and R200
- 5 percent will pay between R200 and R300
- 0.2 percent will reach the monthly R550 cap.
Alli said the information collected through the gantries could fluctuate, however “we believe that these will be fairly consistent because these are our daily users… This is not modelling. This is factual information about our road users.”
Alli said delivery vehicles would also pay less than was initially anticipated. For class B vehicles, which are medium heavy vehicles such as small delivery vans, 65 percent would pay less than R100 while 13 percent would pay between R100 and R200 and around 8 percent would pay between R200 and R300. The remainder would pay between R400 and R550, said Alli.
For Class C vehicles, which are heavy duty, 50 percent would pay less than R100, 17 percent would pay between R100 and R200 and 10 percent would pay between R200 and R300.
Of the remaining 23 percent, 10 percent would reach the R550 cap, Alli said.
Alli did not believe that consumers would bear the increased cost of transporting goods.
“The important thing to note is that class B and C vehicles will be able to reclaim the 14 percent vat. These numbers are inclusive of VAT. Furthermore, all these delivery vehicles, all expenses you incur for delivering goods are tax deductible. Those reaching less than R100 will pay even less,” he said.
But Wayne Duvenhage, chairman of Outa, said while he could not “dispute” Alli’s figures, wondered if Alli was only counting regular users.
“There are 1.5 million motorists that hardly use the highways. They have one gantry movement a month. Their bill is something like R3 a month. If you include those, the average motorist would not pay more than R100. But tell that to those motorists who use the highway every day because they are not going to pay less than R100.”
Duvenhage said Outa would not give up yet.
“Outa has studied the judgment carefully. There are strong reasons that we can rely on for an appeal. The judgment has rendered future public participation processes futile. There was also a misinterpretation of the arguments,” said Duvenhage.
“The cost order (against he alliance) was very unfair and that in itself is appealable,” said Duvenhage adding that the alliance had until January to appeal and would make an announcement in due course.
Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi added his voice, saying the “reduced prices” were just an attempt by Alli to lure people into registering for e-tolls.
“We all know once you are inside their pocket, things will change. All the tolls started with a low price,” he said.
”There are two things we will do. The… majority of motorists will not buy those things (e-tags). And when it is introduced, we will block the roads. They will have to arrest people left right and centre if they want to use those roads,” said Vavi. -Sunday Independent