Johannesburg - Joburg ratepayers are forking out at least R100 000 monthly for the City’s 3 000 vehicle fleet’s e-toll bill. This is despite the council’s initial rejection of the system as inappropriate.
At least six Gauteng municipalities, including Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, are said to owe at least R2.3 million in unpaid e-toll bills but the City of Joburg is not among them.
This week Joburg revealed its average monthly e-toll bill stands at R100 735 for a fleet of 3 181 vehicles.
The council’s payments are in contrast to its stance when Gauteng set up an advisory panel to assess the socio-economic effect of e-tolls.
In its presentation to the panel, the City rejected e-tolls, saying the system could hit the emerging middle class – the cornerstone of future growth – and dampen their effect on the economic growth of the city.
The City said one of the initial reasons for it not supporting e-tolls was the effect traffic diverting from freeways would have on its roads.
The council said it was agreed that an impact study should be done one year after the introduction of e-tolls .
“Only with effective public transport in place can travel demand measures, such as congestion charging, charging more for parking or the reintroduction of tolling become appropriate,” it submitted.
In a parliamentary reply to the DA’s questions, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said Ekurhuleni owed the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) about R1.8m and Tshwane about R400 000.
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) chairman Wayne Duvenage said his reading of Joburg paying e-tolls, despite its rebuff of the system, was no different to how the Gauteng ANC had denounced it but still urged people to pay.
“The fact Ekurhuleni and Tshwane are not paying is simply because of the inefficiencies of the system,” he said.
“It has become a mess for the municipalities to manage and reconcile their accounts… that is still going to be tested.”
Duvenage said none of the administrative issues raised by the municipalities surprised Outa as many other big companies had suffered the same fate. He said the process of paying e-toll accounts had become cumbersome for many.
“Outa will be announcing its new strategy next week, which will include a plan to legally challenge the constitutionality of the new regulations linking e-toll bills to licence disc renewal,” he said.
Other municipalities owing Sanral are the Sedibeng district municipality (R4 026), the Lesedi local municipality (R111 294) and the Midvaal local municipality (R3 395).
Justice Project SA chairman Howard Dembovsky asked how Joburg is able to pay the correct bills if Tshwane had queried the validity of its invoices and Ekurhuleni had raised gross overcharges as reason for falling to pay.
“The reasons given by these municipalities for failing to pay shows tens of thousands of the e-tags do not work properly,” Dembovsky said.