A war of words between the South African National Roads Agency Limited and Justice Project SA continued on Tuesday, in the ongoing spat about the payment of e-tolls on Gauteng's highways, as the Justice Project denied a Sanral claim that it had told drivers they could break the law without any consequences.
Justice Project chairman Howard Dembovsky said: “They must state where they find any grounds whatsoever to state that the Justice Project or I have made any assertions that drivers could break the law without any consequences.”
“MISLEADING THE PUBLIC” Dembovsky had said on Monday that Sanral was misleading the public by saying the failure to pay toll fees was against the law.
Sanral reacted by insisting that the non-payment of toll fees was a criminal rather than a traffic offence.
Its spokesman Vusi Mona accused the Justice Project of showing “an irresponsible and despicable attitude towards the rule of law” in saying drivers could break the law with impunity.
On Tuesday, Dembovsky described the statement as “venomous and unfounded”.
“Sanral is avoiding clarifying e-toll laws and procedures.”
“We have required clarification of procedures and conflicting laws, and Sanral is clearly avoiding the issue that the laws on which e-tolls are based are unclear and contradictory, and that the 'mistakes' add to the public confusion,” Dembovsky said.
These mistakes were differences in the amounts payable in the English and Afrikaans versions of the e-toll tariffs published in the Government Gazette.
The Justice Project said both versions, which were signed by the transport department's acting director general on November 19, “have equal, but conflicting weight”, and it called on the department to repeal the notice.
The e-toll system started operating across Gauteng three weeks ago.
A number of road users registered for e-tolls have taken to consumer website Hello Peter to complain about Sanral, which has apparently not responded.
The website allows for feedback from companies providing services.
The complaints reportedly included incorrect billing, billing not being received, unlawful debits, electronic glitches, e-tags not working and “shocking” charges.
Mona told the newspaper he was on leave, and that readers should direct their complaints to the Sanral customer call centre.
Meanwhile Congress of South African Trade Unions affiliate the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union said its general secretary Andre Kriel had received an e-toll violation fine notice by text on Tuesday.
The union said: “The secretary general has today advised Sanral that he has no intention of paying the fine.
“E-tolls are not acceptable to Sactwu and Cosatu, and we will resist it until the end.”
Sanral could not be reached for comment. - Sapa