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'Sanral double-charging e-tag holders'

Date: 060108 Holiday makers on the rush going back home to Gauteng and Grasmere tollgate was one of the toll gate that had triffic . Picture:Sizwe Ndingane

Date: 060108 Holiday makers on the rush going back home to Gauteng and Grasmere tollgate was one of the toll gate that had triffic . Picture:Sizwe Ndingane

Published Feb 10, 2016

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Johannesburg - Sanral may be claiming that it has successfully implemented e-tag lanes at some of its conventional toll plazas - but the reality on the ground appears to be very different.

E-tags now work at some toll plazas

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The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse says it has received a raft of e-mails from e-tagged motorists claiming they've been double-charged. They say they've been avoiding the e-tag lanes and paying at a cash booth as usual - but it seems that the e-tag registers their transit anyway, leading to a double charge that they don't even know about until they receive their monthly statement.

In some cases, the organisation says, regular commuters' accounts have been completely drained, and then handed over to the South African National Roads Agency Limited's Violations Processing Centre.

There have also been complaints from car rental customers who have paid cash at these toll plazas, only to find the charge repeated on their car rental invoice because the e-tag registered an electronic charge as well.

LONG QUEUES

And when they raise the issue with Sanral and the car rental companies, they say they're asked to provide proof of payment which, in most cases, they don't have. As one complainant put it: "Isn't the whole idea of paying cash to avoid hassling with little bits of paper?"

Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said: "The number of complaints we have received makes this 'double billing' problem far too serious for Sanral to ignore."

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More than that, he added, some motorists had complained that, by reducing the number of cash pay-booths in operation, long queues had been allowed to build up, apparently to 'encourage' drivers to get tagged and use the less congested electronic lanes.

"In effect," he said, "the economic benefits of the faster tolled routes are being lost due to the queues developing at these toll-plazas. Motorists are telling us they refuse to register for electronic tags for any tolled routes, as this is merely one of Sanral's tactics to coerce road users to become linked to the irrational and illegally introduced Gauteng e-toll scheme."

ALTERNATIVE VIEWPOINT

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From the complaints it would seem that, no matter which lane you use at a toll plaza, if your car has a tag it is going to get registered. Whatever your opinion of Sanral's ethics in denying you the choice of which toll payment method to use, you need to make provision for it.

Here at Motoring.co.za we spend a lot of time driving test cars, many of which have e-tags; it's therefore up to us to check whether the car has a tag before driving a tolled road, and to choose the appropriate payment medium. The situation is analogous to that obtaining with rental cars - if the rental car has a tag and you insist on paying cash, make sure you ask for a receipt. You are going to need it.

If, however, you have voluntarily bought and fitted an e-tag to your own vehicle, you have nobody to blame but yourself; it's up to you to make the system work for you.

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