Stop e-tolls before it’s too late
“Portugal’s e-toll problems are very similar to the type that we have envisaged for the SANRAL’s Gauteng tolling plan,” said Wayne Duvenage, the chairperson of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA). “In a country such as Portugal, where compliance and administration efficiency is much higher than in South Africa, it is evident that tolling projects of this nature are subject to a certain level of citizen rejection. Judging by Portugal’s e-toll project which has seen a 19% non payment rate by road users, you can rest assured that matters of non-compliance will be far worse here for SANRAL, following the outrage and general public rejection of their plans to toll Gauteng’s freeways.”
The Portuguese project has been fraught with lower than anticipated revenue collections, and collection administration costs now as high as 29% of the revenues generated and getting worse. According to Antonio Ramalho (the Chief Executive of the EP concessionaire for Portugal’s SCUT e-toll project), in May, the cars traveling on SCUT motorways without an electronic tagging device cost as much to bill as the amount they pay for using the toll road. He went on to say “The system is unsustainable and we hope it doesn’t stay the way it is.”
The article has also raised concerns as to the profitability of charging tolls on previously unpaid or so-called SCUT motorways. OUTA warns of similar concerns raised here in Gauteng and the South African authorities would do this country a favour by preventing an embarrassing situation from getting worse. “We urge them not to ignore the signs that point to a rapid failure of the Gauteng e-toll project, one which has experienced massive rejection by society. It doesn’t take much to realize that e-tolling in Gauteng will be an absolute mess and is unsustainable”, said Duvenage who further suggested that “it would be best to halt this plan before it is too late and to rather extract the revenues required to pay for the freeway upgrade by way of the efficient general tax and fuel levies.