e-Tolls Media Release

SANRAL must deal with real issues of e-Toll failure

OUTA notes with interest that Sanral has finally decided to make a submission to the Gauteng e-toll review panel. While very late in the panel’s process, the about-turn is most welcome and we look forward to hearing Sanral’s response to the numerous questions and concerns that have emerged.

We hope that besides engaging with the panel, Sanral will now also begin to participate in live panel discussions and radio talk shows to answer their critics and the public, by explaining themselves on the many matters and questions which they constantly ignore. This behaviour simply raises the level of mistrust in their actions.

Of serious concern is the lack of verification of the 8,4:1 benefit to cost ratio that Sanral relied so heavily on in its motiviation for the scheme. Two years have passed since the road upgrade has been completed to test their claims, yet to date nothing along these lines has been forthcoming.

“OUTA is also concerned about the numerous false statements, fabrications and evasiveness that have discredited Sanral and to overcome their plight, Sanral needs to begin by behaving in a professional, transparent and engaging manner”. Says John Clarke, OUTA spokesperson. “OUTA does not want to see the demise of this once respected State Owned Enterprise, but honest truth must precede genuine reconciliation and forgiveness from the public.”

We believe the e-toll debacle is a classic case of someone who has held power for too long and has become vulnerable to losing touch with reality and failed to listen to its customer’s expectations. Questions must also be asked as to why the Minister, the Sanral Board and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to whom Sanral is ultimately accountable, have not taken a serious position in listening to the critics of Sanral’s e-toll plans. As with any organisation, pressure will mount on all stakeholders, both internal and external, when the organisational leadership fails to be inclusive or lacks the necessary transparency required through open debate on such important matters.”

In OUTA’s submission to the review panel (available on OUTA’s website), there were ‘three burning issues’ that were of a moral ethical nature, rather than strategic effectiveness or operational efficiency, these being; Information Ethics, Odius Debt and the Crisis of Legitimacy. These issues need to be addressed by Government and we believe the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport has been remiss in it’s duties to invite OUTA to present these concerns to its members. For Parliament to come to grips with the gravity of the matters in a manner befitting a constitutional democracy they need to invite stakeholders to educate the Legislature.

“We believe the injustices of SANRAL’s imposition of e-tolling are very relevant and that while Sanral may try to influence the panel’s perceptions about the e-toll decision, the system has been implemented for almost one year and has grossly failed to achieve its objectives as an efficient funding mechanism,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s Chairperson. “This is the reality which the authorities need to critically interrogate and identify the real issues that have caused its failure. Sanral’s critics most certainly cannot be blamed for its failure”.

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