In Premier Makhura’s State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Monday, he alluded to the lack of e-toll payment as being due to affordability, as opposed to being a mass civil disobedience campaign. OUTA refutes this claim outright, in that their extensive research indicates that e-Toll non-payment has virtually nothing to do with the tariff, and that the non-payment (now at around 90% of the road users) is due to a matter of principle.
The public have defied the scheme for a number of reasons, all of which culminate in a civil disobedience campaign against an irrational, inefficient, cumbersome tax which they believe was also introduced through a dismal and meaningless public engagement process. Furthermore, the defiant citizens believe that urban road upgrades need to be funded with taxation, which is fed through other efficient user pays mechanisms, such as the fuel levy and vehicle license fees.
A survey conducted by OUTA and other media outlets, showed that when asked if citizens would pay e-tolls if it was only one cent, the overwhelming response was “no”. The public are emphatic that they shouldn’t have to pay additional fees, which attract high administration costs, to use social infrastructure that should be funded through normal taxation.
The fact that premier Makhura has emphasised in his SOPA that a number of highways and other arterial routes will be upgraded in due course, but will be undertaken without the use of tolling, is a tacit acknowledgement that social infrastructure should not be subjected to user pays systems – just as it was acknowledged by the state president’s committee, commissioned to review state owned entity funding in 2013.
It would appear now that government is confused and even schizophrenic in its reasoning and logic around the road funding methodology and the time has come for them to acknowledge that the seriously flawed and failed e-toll matter was the wrong decision.
It is dead and the white elephant now needs to be buried.
OUTA maintains that it will defend any of its contributing members from any prosecution related to non payment of e-Tolls. Become a member by clicking here.