OUTA, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, (formerly the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance), has been informed by hundreds of members of the public that their outstanding e-toll balances have mysteriously “disappeared.” It’s as if certain e-toll accounts are being written off at random by SANRAL’s collection agents, the Electronic Collection Company (ETC).
“At first, we received a few messages from our members, who had sizable outstanding e-toll bills erased. These ranged between R20,000 and R30,000, whereby statements at the end of 2015 had been reduced to a few rands,” says Rob Hutchinson, OUTA’s Communications Director. “We then asked these members of the public to send us copies of their invoices which depicted these windfall reductions to their e-toll accounts. Sure enough, their sizable outstanding balances had mysteriously been wiped clean.”
Suspecting that this may a widespread glitch, we put out a message to a section of our membership base to see if this ‘error of kindness’ was more widespread. Our suspicions were confirmed, as hundreds of Gauteng freeway users indicated their accumulated e-toll bills – each one being tens of thousands of Rands – had been erased to a few hundred rands. When asked, these members confirmed that they had not taken up any offers of discount, nor had they paid one rand toward the-toll scheme since its inception.
“Judging by the hundreds of responses we received from our sample size, we estimate that several thousands of road users have received a collective credit of millions of rands in e-toll debt, either deliberately or by accident. Either way, this depicts another problem and example of the schemes unworkability,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s Chairman. “One can imagine how furious those who have been diligently paying over the past two years must feel, when they hear the debt of defiant users has been eradicated without ever registering or paying toward the scheme.”
In another worrying trend, OUTA has received increasing input from members of the public who have diligently been paying their e-tolls but who have of late received SMS’s and erroneous messages of outstanding invoices totaling several thousands of rands, even though in their opinion and records, they have no outstanding balances with SANRAL. In their attempts to handle these matters directly with SANRAL, they received no joy or satisfactory solution to their queries. It seems those who have been paying are being hurt the most.