OUTA notes with interest that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport will be briefed by SANRAL on the implementation of e-tolling in Gauteng. Sanral’s media statement of 17 February 2014 downplays the purpose of the briefing by simply stating it is to inform the Committee on ‘what went wrong and also what went right’ with e-tolling as if it was a post mortem of a soccer match.
“SANRAL speaks like a soccer coach whose team has lost 2-0 with an own goal having been scored and finds something positive in the fact that each team scored a goal” says John Clarke, the spokesperson for OUTA. “Even more comical is SANRAL’s claim that the number of complaints are a mere 0.3% of the total road users. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of road users who are simply not complying and have not bothered to complain. The real issue is that the system does not have the support and commitment of the people.
For e-tolling to be regarded as a success by international standards, SANRAL needs to achieve levels of compliance closer to 90%, along with low (single digit percentage) administration costs. One only needs to read the thousands of comments and complaints to realize that SANRAL have not only lost the people, but they have lost the plot and the system will struggle to achieve a situation of high compliance, an outcome that will see most of the revenues collected being used to simply pay off the collection process and far too little paying off the freeway upgrade.”
OUTA’s is currently finalizing a research paper which examines the implications of a recent study by University of Pretoria academics Dr Marlene Holmner and Ms Erin Hommes, which shows that Gauteng’s e-toll system is sorely lacking in almost all of the critical success factors for so called Intelligent Transport Systems. OUTA hopes that members of the Transport Portfolio Committee will take note of the Hommes & Holmner research, along with its own paper (shortly due), which spells out the reasons for this e-toll project’s high potential for failure. “This dismal performance by a once respected State Owned Entity, is due to their meaningless public engagement program, combined with a lack of transparency and poor research that has taken the public for granted,” adds Clarke.
Finally OUTA urges MP’s to insist that Sanral fully explains why nine weeks after a potentially serious breach of the road agency’s online systems Sanral has not yet established how many user accounts were compromised and why it has neither notified compromised account holders of the crime, nor notified its user base as a whole that their personal data may be in the hands of cyber criminals.