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Let’s all work together to stop this madness, says Dieter Bergs.
I listened to a short interview on Carte Blanche on October 13 in which a gentleman – I do not recall his name – criticised the proposed e-tolling system. His argument against it was superbly put.
First, the system was developed by an Austrian company, which will receive hundreds of millions of rand on an ongoing basis in royalties and licence fees. But we have hi-tech capabilities and technical personnel in this country, so why go to Austria?
The question thousands ask is: who and what is behind this arrangement? Who benefits and to what extent? Our government in its “wisdom” has deemed it fit to guarantee billions – yes, billions – of rand to the operators of this system. Why?
I am all for improvements and new roads. The existing fuel tax system for this purpose has been in existence for decades. The machinery therefore exists to collect, if necessary, an additional 10c to 20c a litre.
There’s no need for any infrastructure or an “arms deal-like” agreement. We all know the risen cost and uselessness of that scandalous fiasco.
The gentleman referred to above has the right idea. If, say, a million motorists refuse to pay for an e-tag, what would the result be? The result would be that a million invoices would have to be issued and posted. A million reminders would have to be issued and posted, followed by a million letters of demand.
We all know the inefficiency of our postal “service”.
These letters would have to be followed by the creation of a million case files, the issuing of a million summonses.
Now, if we follow our legal systems, a million court cases would have to be instigated, all this for fines of probably R300 to R400.
The same procedure would follow a month or two later, and ad infinitum. The result of all this would be a disaster and a fiasco that would collapse our legal administrative service and our courts, which are already thousands of cases – mostly criminal – in arrears.
I reiterate, I am in favour of additional revenue for our roads provided it is applied to that purpose.
However, use the existing fuel tax system, which does not cost a cent extra to administer.
I have no intention of buying an e-tag, as a protest against the spending of billions of rand, most of which will undoubtedly find its way into private pockets.
A commission of inquiry by an international and reputable firm of auditors, not a government-appointed in-house team, should be established to ascertain who cajoled the government into this quagmire and who the illegal beneficiaries are.
Let’s all work together to stop this madness.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.