After five months of Sanral’s e-toll collection failure the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance is anticipating the commencement of its long-threatened sanctions against the million plus motorists who have not paid their e-toll bills, yet continue to assert their right to use the Gauteng freeways as public infrastructure.
“Despite Minister Peters comment to Advocate Alberts in parliament that Sanral would not use criminal prosecution against e-toll refuseniks, we have learned that Sanral is impatient to commence with a ‘big carrots and large stick’ tactic in earnest” says OUTA Spokesperson John Clarke.
“However they will not succeed so long as society stands fast in civil courage and so long as we remember how far we have come” adds OUTA Chair Wayne Duvenage. “During the founding affidavits in the e-toll court battle, Mr Nazir Alli indicated that Sanral was on track to reach an e-tag penetration rate of over 92%. Currently OUTA’s sources have informed us that Sanral has barely reached the 40% level, which means that more than 60% of users have remained defiant in their outright rejection of the scheme by opting to be ‘alternate users’” Duvenage said.
“Sanral’s credibility is in tatters because of the ongoing billing fiasco and the contradictory and inconsistent messaging between Cabinet ministers and Sanral executives. The combined effect has been to blunt Mr Vusi Mona’s repeated threats that the non-payment of e-tolls would attract criminal charges under the Sanral act”.
“Nevertheless, OUTA believes that Sanral will shortly apply its latest tactic to offer a massive sweetener (a juicy carrot) of a sizable discount to all past unpaid e-toll bills, on condition that the road-user promptly pays the discounted bill and agrees to Sanral’s terms of conditions to register and tag up. We advise motorists not to be intimidated by fear or be seduced by sweeteners. No regulatory system can possibly be sustained by treating people that are expected to finance the system as if they are criminals or stubborn mules.” says Duvenage.
“Besides the juicy carrots of discounts, OUTA believes that Sanral will also threaten to action their mobile units to identify ‘known violators’ and escort them off the freeways and even possibly charge them by law enforcement officers.”
“Crude ‘behavior modification’ methods as indicated by SANRAL intentions, only work with real criminal offenders who have anti-social and sociopathic personality disorders, which is a general profile that does not fit any of the few thousands of complainants we have interacted with over the past five months,” says Clarke. In addition, to sustain externally imposed sanctions over time, the sanctioning authority must have manifest and increasing legitimacy and integrity with the people. Whatever legitimacy and integrity the State had to enforce e-tolls was squandered by the shockingly poor and meaningless public engagement process undertaken by SANRAL in 2007/8, coupled with their conduct of its ‘law-fare’ strategy against opponents of e-tolling and their menacing and threatening tactics to scare innocent road users into complying with their irrational scheme.”