In response to news that Sanral has transgressed the Metrology Act in failing to obtain certification of its electronic systems, the Opposition for Urban Tolling Alliance has issued the following statement.
In a parliamentary question put by Anton Alberts of the Freedom Front Plus, the Minister of Transport was asked “Whether the SA National Roads Agency (SANRAL) if at any stage has applied for the certification or exemption from certification of the e-toll system, in terms of the Trade Metrology Act, Act 77 of 1973, and/or the later Legal Metrology Act, Act 9 of 2014, and other supporting legislation applicable to certification”
The minister’s reply clearly showed that Sanral had not, but tried to deflect attention by stating “in the absence of specific technical regulations, this matter is being handled by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) in terms of the legal Metrology Act of 1973. The CEO of the NRCS will set requirements and conditions for use of the equipment in terms of section 22 of the Legal Metrology Act.”
OUTA finds this response unacceptable, as in effect it is an admission that SANRAL’s has transgressed the Metroblogy Act, and continues to behave as a law unto themselves. OUTA maintains its position that Sanral has flouted constitutional provisions that oblige State Owned Enterprises to be transparent, accountable and above all, lawful.
OUTA believes that to spare herself further exasperation and embarrassment, Minister Peters needs to take stringent corrective action to ensure that Sanral’s Executive Board commits itself to a display of discipline at the highest levels or face the consequences of the harshest disciplinary action.
We remind the public that the lack of accuracy and technical conformity of the e-toll technology was exposed a year ago, after the data produced during an inquest to ascertain the speed at which Mr Duduzane Zuma was travelling – when his vehicle collided with a taxi on the Gauteng freeway network, leading to the fatal injury to a passenger – was rendered as unreliable and inadmissible.
While errors and start-up problems are natural in all innovations and new systems, given the sheer size and scope of the e-toll scheme, public goodwill and buy in was even more important to obtain before embarking on its launch. By failing to do so, Sanral has managed to alienate the public to such an extent, that there is now no more goodwill left to draw on.
The public interest is not being served by Sanral. This latest admission by the Minister would ordinarily give the Public Protector more reason to investigate Sanral, but given the pressure she is under, we are concerned that Sanral will be left unchallenged on this matter. This in turn leaves the various issues and transgressions by Sanral, to be addressed and tackled by political parties such as the Freedom Front, the DA and civil action movements like OUTA. As such, OUTA has now geared itself up to offer a protective defensive umbrella to motorists, who can rely on the organisation to hold Sanral accountable at every turn, for failing the public. OUTA has indicated it will come to the legal defense of any of its contributing members, in the event of Sanral moving to prosecute them for not paying e-toll bills.