e-Tolls Media Release

OUTA not fazed by SANRAL’s e-Toll launch announcement

OUTA  is  not  surprised  or  fazed  by  SANRAL’s  announcement  to  launch  their  Gauteng  Freeway  eToll  plans.    “We’ve  heard  it  all  before,”  says  Wayne  Duvenage,  Chairperson  of  OUTA.    It  has  been  seven  months  since  the  Constitutional  Court  set  aside  the  initial  interdict  to  allow  Sanral  to  start  tolling,  something  they  claimed  they  could  and  would  do  within  two  weeks  of  a  ruling  in  their  favour,  citing  the  urgent  need  to  generate  revenue  and  the  negative  impact  the  delay  was  having  on  their  credit  ratings.  OUTA  maintains  that  Sanral  have  never  been  ready  to  launch  eTolling  to  this  day,  which  is  actually  some  two  years  after  the  initial  launch  date  announcement  for  April  2011.    “We  wonder  what  the  real  reasons  are  that  is  taking  them  so  long.”

 

Society  should  also  not  be  fooled  by  Sanral’s  claims  of  78%  of  the  average  motorists  paying  below  R100  per  month.  Averages  can  be  very  deceiving.  The  daily  commuter  travelling  between  Tshwane  and  Johannesburg,  or  East  and  West  Rand  will  be  paying  well  over  R300  per  month.    We  also  expect  SANRAL  to  announce  lower  eToll  tariffs  and  reduced  maximum  monthly  limits,  along  with  other  initiatives  to  entice  Gauteng  road  users  to  get  tagged  and  buy  into  their  plan  to  tax  motorists  for  the  use  of  freeways.    The  issue  here  is  the  exorbitant  and  unnecessary  collection  cost,  which  is  anything  between  R1,5bn  and  R1,7bn  per  annum,  following  the  ETC  contract  awarded  at  R8,4bn  for  the  first  5  years  to  operate  the  collection  system.  The  public  also  knows  that  the  tariffs  of  today  are  not  necessarily  the  tariffs  of  tomorrow.

 

It  is  also  very  wrong  for  Sanral  to  state  that  OUTA’s  legal  challenge  to  halt  eTolling  is  of  no  consequence.    The  Constitutional  Court  ruling  in  September  2012  was  related  only  to  the  temporary  interdict  and  was  outside  the  result  of  the  review,  which  will  now  be  heard  in  the  Supreme  Court  of  Appeal  in  Bloemfontein  during  the  latter  part  of  the  year.    When  one  contemplates  the  gross  neglect  of  the  public  engagement  process  required  by  our  constitution,  combined  with  the  irrationality  and  inefficiency  of  their  plan,  we  remain  adamant  that  our  case  remains  strong  and  very  defendable  in  court.    Should  Sanral  forge  ahead  regardless,  the  legal  sword  hangs  over  their  plans  and  this  should  most  certainly  be  of  serious  concern  to  them.

 

SANRAL’s  claim  that  there  have  been  600,000  tags  signed  up  is  misleading,  as  we  know  they  have  given  most  of  these  to  the  fleet  management  and  government  fleet  organisations.  We  estimate  that  less  than  60,000  of  Gauteng’s  3,5  million  motorists  have  purchased  an  eTag.    The  public  engagement  sessions  held  in  November  last  year  also  sent  a  clear  message  of  rejection  to  the  authorities  on  their  eToll  plans.  Our  enquiries  about  tag  sales  at  some  of  their  customer  sales  centres,  has  revealed  dismal  sales  of  less  than  a  handful  of  tags  a  week.

 

Michael  Tatalias  of  the  Southern  Africa  Tourism  Services  Association  (SATSA)  expresses  that  “It  is  society’s  lack  of  trust  and  their  outright  rejection  of  the  eToll  plan  that  is  Sanral’s  biggest  hurdle,  due  to  the  lack  of  transparency,  the  high  costs  and  the  sheer  irrationality  of  the  plan  which  has  clearly  not  been  implemented  in  the  best  interest  of  society.  Successful  tolling  systems  around  the  world  are  those  which  have  low  administration  costs  (below  10%  of  the  revenue)  and  which  have  an  extremely  high  level  of  support  and  backing  by  the  public.  Coupled  with  societies  rejection  of  eTolls  are  problems  and  challenges  related  to  the  enforcement  mechanism  through  the  criminal  procedures  act  (CPA),  which  will  have  immense  ramifications  for  the  courts  and  judicial  process  when  people  simply  do  not  subscribe  to  the  system”.

ISSUED  BY  Wayne  Duvenage  Chairperson  of  OUTA,  082  884  6652

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