File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu / Independent Media.
File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu / Independent Media.

Sanral trying to 'lipstick a pig': Outa

By Lindi Masinga Time of article published May 4, 2016

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Johannesburg - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has said it doubts claims by road authorities that 300 000 people had taken up the etoll discount dispensation of 60%.

Outa Chairman Wayne Duvenage, said: “Anything short of R2.5 billion collected or committed for collection, will still mean the system will have only pushed compliance up to roughly 50%. This in itself will be seen as a significant failure for the user pays scheme. International evidence shows that these schemes fail when compliance drops below 85 to 80%”.

Also read: Deadline failed to spark e-toll rush

Duvenage said that the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) needed to tell the public how much of the R5.9 billion discounted and ring-fenced debt to September 2015, was collected through their discount offer.

Trying to “lipstick a pig”

“Outa notes with interest SANRAL's claims of 300 000 people having taken up the e-toll discounted dispensation 60% and finds it hard to believe their claims,” he said. “If their history is anything to go by, we believe then their claims are nothing short of trying to put lipstick on a pig and trying to talk a good story, when reality the compliance levels remain poor,” Duvenhage said.

As of 2014, 19% of South Africa's national roads were toll roads, and the systems were said to be designed to fund the R20 billion highway upgrade program (GFIP or Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project) which was implemented in 2007 and largely completed by April 2011.

“If Sanral's uptake of the dispensation was even as high as 500 000 motorists, the compliance will remain significantly below one million. With over 2.5 million motorists using the Gauteng freeway each month, this will mean that more that 1.5 million motorists will have shunned the discount offer, even after the massive marketing and coercion campaign launched by Sanral over the past months.”

Carrot and stick approach

Duvenage said that if that wasn't a clear message from the public to Sanral and the government that people were refusing to buckle to the “carrot and stick approach”, then there was no hope for sanity to prevail on the debacle.

“The e-toll scheme will never work, and if Sanral or the government believes that the only way to make this system work is through coercive legal summonsing and victimisation of its citizens, we believe this, it is a dangerous route to follow and is not in the best interest of its country.”

He added that if Sanral and the Government wanted to go to court, then Outa would be willing to go to court to defend the public's rights, as they were prepared to expose what it termed the unlawful introduction of the e-toll scheme.

Sanral said it was too early to reveal the amount of money collected during the 60% discount period, which ended on Monday.

African News Agency (ANA)

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