File picture: Ihsaan Haffejee / Independent Media.
Johannesburg - Several taxi associations and motorists in Gauteng have come out in support of Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse's call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ease the financial burden on motorists.

The support for Outa came after the president's call on July 5 to his ministers serving on the economic cluster to come up with plans to introduce more VAT zero-rated goods.

On Friday, national spokesperson of the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) Theo Malele said his association was in full support of the initiative to decrease fuel prices in the country.

“We also want the president to look into maladministration at the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and to ensure that it is run effectively and efficiently,” Malele said.

He added there were more than 300 000 taxis on the roads and each contributed R1.93 to the RAF per litre of petrol purchased.

“A taxi uses 60 litres of petrol per day; imagine the contribution that all of the taxis make towards the RAF,” Malele said.

He said the government should consider exempting taxi owners from tax or introduce an “integrated ticketing system” of all public transport to equally share the number of commuters.

Malele conceded that the recent fuel hike had forced them to increase taxi fares, resulting in commuters spending more than 10% of their disposable income on transport.

SA remains opposed to e-tolls

Veronica Morolong*, who lives in Soweto and works in Pretoria, supports the call to scrap e-tolls. She said apart from spending money on petrol, she initially also had to save money for e-tolls but it had become costly.

“I could not afford it and started defaulting on e-tolls and now have summonses," she said..

Other motorists echoed these sentiments.

The lobby group also wants a drastic reduction in concessionaire toll fees at national toll gates outside Gauteng such as on the N3 highway and at Bakwena in the North West, as well as the scrapping of VAT on toll fees.

Outa said it was in the country’s interest to scrap the e-toll system launched in 2013. Outa chief operating officer Ben Theron said South Africans remained opposed to e-tolls despite tariff decreases in 2015.

“As many of the accounts being settled are freight and logistics companies, it is not unreasonable to assume that individual compliance is actually much lower than the reported 30%.

“In fact, overall compliance and payments seem to be decreasing year-on-year with the latest figures for March 2018 showing a collection of R57 million, down from R66m in March 2017,” Theron said.

1.5 million e-toll defaulters

He said in 2016, Sanral began legal action against defaulters, saying Outa had to defend almost 1000 cases in court. “Considering that there are currently about 1.5 million e-toll defaulters, this is only the beginning of a monumental task that will ultimately cost the government and therefore taxpayer an exorbitant amount in legal fees for a system the public was not consulted on and made clear they did not want,” Theron said.

“Every day thousands of claims prescribe because of a lack of legal action against defaulters, resulting in a loss of about of R6m a day for Sanral.” .

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona was not available for comment.

According to Outa, it would be to the advantage of motorists and government if the regulations declaring the Gauteng freeways as toll roads were revoked.

“The scrapping of e-tolls will result in immediate relief for motorists and will take away the uncertainty that goes along with using freeways,” he said.

Theron said the concessionaire toll fees at four entities; Sanral, Bakwena, TRAC and N3TC, had allegedly increased toll prices above inflation over the past 10 years.

“A strong suggestion is to reduce toll fees by at least 20% to ease the burden not only on individual motorists but also on freight and logistic companies who ultimately push the cost on to an overburdened consumer.”

Theron said motorists using toll roads are charged a fee which includes VAT despite already being taxed with a fuel and RAF levy..

* Not her real name.

Independent on Sunday