The new e-toll tariffs have kicked in, but opposition to the system seems strong as ever. File photo: Thobile Mathonsi/Independent Media.

Johannesburg - The new e-toll tariffs kicked in on Thursday, but only about 7 percent of freeway users will benefit from the new rates, according to opponents of the scheme.

And motorists can rest assured it will take about 18 months for Sanral to link the withholding of a licence disc for non-payment of tolls.

Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) chairman Wayne Duvenage said while the cap had been halved, this reduction would not affect more than 93 percent of freeway users.

Furthermore, the rates that have been reduced are the old standard tariffs, which few people were paying in the first place, meaning the discounts offered are a hollow gesture – a meaningless attempt to bring society on board.

DOOMED TO FAIL AGAIN?

“This new dispensation should be described more aptly as a new desperation and, in Outa’s opinion, it will fail again as the issue has gone way beyond the rates.

“It’s not about the tariffs, but more about the irrationality of the cumbersome scheme which is grossly inefficient and a waste of tax-payers’ time and money,” said Duvenage.

He said Sanral’s talk of phasing the scheme in over the next 18 months was a clear indication of its non-readiness and the unworkability of the system.

“They are relying on the successful national implementation of the Adjudication of Administrative Road Transport Act (Aarto) to introduce the enforcement of the withholding of vehicle licences, which they believe will resolve their problems.”

The government had been trying to roll out Aarto since 2007 with little success, he said.

Furthermore, failing to display a licence disc is a minor infringement. Motorists will still be able to pay for the licence even though they are not issued the actual disc.

Outa maintains from its research that in the context and against the backdrop of the South African regulatory and poor administrative competence environment, the e-toll scheme will never achieve the required levels of compliance for success, no matter how many millions of taxpayers’ rand Sanral pumps into its advertising campaign.

Sanral said the statements made by Outa claiming that the new, gazetted e-toll dispensation was “smoke and mirrors” without tangible benefits, were “patently incorrect and misleading”.

OUTA “TELLING LIES”

Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said the introduction of the lowered standard tariff, that was now the same as the e-tag tariff, would provide relief to users who were not registered.

“In this regard, we are working with the Department of Transport and have already started with the administrative and legal processes to implement the new dispensation.

“The implementation requires software and operational changes that must be implemented in accordance with best practice,” said Mona.

The assertion by Outa that there had been no reduction in tariffs was a lie, he said. In the previous dispensation, the 30c/km tariff for light motor vehicles was only applicable to registered e-tag users. In the new dispensation, this applies to all users, whether they have an e-tag or not.

Other innovations such as the 30 free gantry passes a year will be announced once the system and administrative requirements have been fulfilled.

“It is not true that the new dispensation is like a ‘new coat over the same rusty broken vehicle’ as described by Outa.

“On the contrary, it is their criticism that sounds like a broken record. The new e-toll dispensation has brought significant changes that will benefit all those who use the e-roads,” said Mona.

Meanwhile, members of the ANC-led alliance remain divided over the issue, with Cosatu reiterating its call for the system to be defied.

Cosatu and the SACP are known to be staunch opponents of the system, even with the new tariffs.

Cosatu acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali yesterday said they maintained their call for the public to disregard the system and not pay. – Additional reporting by Theto Mahlakoana and Mogomotsi Magome

The Star

Rev up your inbox with the IOL Motoring newsletter