The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) notes with amusement, SANRAL’s claim of an increase in e-Toll collections, when in actual fact their numbers have remained low and relatively steady, oscillating between a high of R82 million and low of R59 million over the seven months from July 2015 to January 2016. To now suggest the e-toll collections of between R80m and R90m for February and March 2016 is a growth of any substance, is a feeble attempt at claiming success when there is none. We’ve seen this behaviour many times before from SANRAL, as they pump out propaganda in a desperate attempt to convince the public that all is on track for e-toll success.
Despite last year’s offer of a 60% e-toll discount on outstanding bills by deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the public have demonstrated resilience by not falling for this final round of carrots and sticks. There is now one month left of Sanral’s discount dispensation and the first five months thereof, has seen less than R100 million of the R5,9 billion ringfenced debt collected, which means around 1,5% of the dispensation discount offer has been heeded.
“Throughout the first half of 2015, SANRAL’s e-toll collections averaged at R65 million per month, which was around half the level of SANRAL’s best e-toll revenue record of R120m in June 2014,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s Chairman. “Their record month was only achieved after six months of coercive threats of summonses and criminal records and despite this, they failed to collect less than half the R260 million monthly income, which Sanral frequently espoused as required and attainable, prior to the scheme’s launch.”
OUTA doubts if Sanral’s wish for a last minute rush to take up their offer will transpire. No doubt there will be a few takers, as can be expected, following a massive marketing campaign and more coercive tactics that will exude from Sanral’s PR engine throughout April. Nonetheless, we don’t expect Sanral’s e-toll compliance levels to go much beyond 30%, which is a massive failure for any so-called user-pays scheme,” says Duvenage.
Sanral’s recent spin suggests that those who oppose the e-toll scheme, are the cause of the State Owned Entity’s financial woes and credit rating pressures. “Sanral’s financial predicament is self-inflicted and they should stop blaming others for a mess which they created,” says Duvenage. “Sanral cannot run roughshod over the public, with meaningless engagement programs and excessive collection contracts for an ill-conceived scheme to service the debt of an overpriced freeway upgrade, and expect us to fall for their nonsense.”