The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) is both shocked and appalled at
Sanral’s waste of money, spending over R85 million per annum to advertise a
system, which the majority of people have denounced. “This must go down as one
of the world’s most unsuccessful marketing campaigns, whereby several millions of
taxpayers rands have been spent with little success in the promotion of their cause,”
says Wayne Duvenage, Chairperson of OUTA.
This size of advertising budget is enjoyed by few of South Africa’s top multi-billion
rand corporate brands operating in highly competitive industries. SANRAL however
operates as a monopoly with government policy at its defense. “There is something
seriously wrong with any entity that operates in such a protected environment and
spending so much money trying to sell an ill-conceived plan to society, whilst at the
same time observing its credibility sink deeper into the mud.” says Duvenage.
SANRAL behaves as if it were a business operating in a competitive environment,
seeking customers for its products over another. It is however, a state owned entity
whose role is to construct roads in the most efficient manner and at the lowest cost to
society. Instead, it has embarked on a strategy to convince society to pay far more
than it needs to, through an inefficient revenue generating system of eTolls that
enriches overseas companies, whilst at the same time, society has been
encumbered by Sanral’s overpayment of the Gauteng freeways due to collusive bidrigging
contractors, the behaviour of which Sanral has yet to condemn.
According to OUTA, a number of corporate entities, government departments and
others will ‘toe the eTag line’, however, tens (if not hundreds) of thousands will not
get tagged, nor will they pay for the use of the freeways. This is not because they
don’t want to pay for infrastructure that offers benefits to society, but because Sanral
(and the Government) have lost the trust of the people on this issue. They have
sought to force a costly construction and collection system into being, whilst lacking
the required levels of transparency and engagement with a society who would want
nothing more than to have been part of the process, seeking the most efficient
funding mechanism with alternative options and solutions included into the plan.
The examples of road tolling failures around the world are plentiful, especially when
they have lost the support of society and the levels of compliance required for
success in Gauteng will never be sufficient, regardless of how much advertising
Sanral throws at the problem. At the other extreme of enticement, is enforcement
and on this score, Government should know by now that laws and regulations are
only as good as they are governable. Governing and enforcing the eToll matter will
be a never-ending uphill battle. OUTA continues to hope the authorities will review
their eToll intentions and consider an alternative funding solution, which will be more
beneficial and acceptable to South Africa’s road users.