Johannesburg - The country’s courts clogged by millions of misdemeanour cases, and the government forced to bail out Sanral, are signs of chaos, but for Outa it is the smell of victory.
This morning the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance declared the government’s revelation that only nine percent of freeway drivers had paid e-tolls a sign of the beginning of the end.
On Tuesday transport minister Dipuo Peters, in response to parliamenary questions from DA transport spokesman Ian Ollis, admitted that only R50 million of the more than R500 million billed by the South African National Roads Agency Limited had been recovered.
Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said today: “Sanral can threaten as much as they want.”
“People have the moral courage to stand up against an unjust system.”
More than a million freeway users had not bought e-tags, he said, so the National Prosecuting Authority could never properly prosecute those engaging in civil disobedience.
Duvenage added that Outa had been inundated with e-mails and messages from drivers saying they would be happy to be arrested and argue their case against the e-toll system in court.
Duvenage said this was a wake-up call to the government.
“What more do you need to know that taxpayers feel their time and money is being wasted?”
He said at the rate the roads agency was losing money, the government could start seeing Sanral in a negative light, but it was unclear if this would lead to the project’s scrapping.
The DA’s Ollis said the extent of non-payment was a sign that the public clearly 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.
Peters had said that as at February 28, the revenue transferred to the VPC was R543 544 574.
She said 9.21 percent (R50 043 487) of that had been collected.
The outstanding payments were from both registered and non-registered e-toll road users.
Ollis pointed out that R54 735 638 (excluding VAT) had been spent on collecting the outstanding e-tolls, including R32.8 million on printing and posting invoices to freeway users and another R21.9 million on debt collection, while only R50 043 487 had been recovered.
‘CASH-FLOW PROBLEMS - WHO, US?’
Meanwhile, Sanral on Thursday denied experiencing cash-flow problems. The agency said it had 1.2 million registered e-tag users and collection of fines was going well.
The agency collected R250.8 million in February, it said.
Financial officer Inge Mulder said it was true that only nine percent of non-registered users paid after Sanral's seven-day grace period had expired, but 35 percent paid before the seven days were up.
"There is no cash-flow problem but possibly a misunderstanding."
"In fact, we are satisfied with both registrations and payments made by non-registered users," she said. "We have always trusted that the public will do the right thing and pay. This high level of compliance has also meant that we are on track to meet our debt obligations."
The agency was responding to a news report that it could be facing cash-flow problems after recovering less than 10 percent of more than R500 million in overdue e-toll charges from freeway users.
Experts reportedly warned the parastatal might not be able to service its R40 billion debt and might have to ask the Treasury for a bailout.
Sanral denied laying off staff.
"A sub-contractor to Electronic Toll Collection is laying off temporary staff because the work they were contracted to do has been completed," the agency said.
The Star, Sapa