On Wednesday 5th March 2014, in response to parliamentary questions, Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters said that the average number of e-Tags fitted to vehicles making use of the Gauteng Freeways was “between 23% and 28,6% as at February 1st 2014”. This information corresponds with the e-tag count that the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance did in early February which found that 71% of vehicles passing under the gantries did not have e-tags fitted. Minister Peters also gave information which exposed Sanral CEO Nazir Alli’s recent claims of “over 1 million registered users” as grossly exaggerated. Minister Peters said that at the end of January there were 912 049 e-tags issued but only 51% of that number (468 388) were fitted into private freeway users and the balance to government and corporate vehicles.
“The statement by Minister Peters confirms OUTA’s findings and also indicates why the Central Operations Centre at Midrand is being overwhelmed with so called ‘teething problems’,” said John Clarke, the spokesperson for OUTA. “Since the large majority of vehicles passing under the gantries are not E-tag registered, the Ops centre staff have to use video evidence and the eNatis database to identify vehicles and bill them. Because the data is unreliable and the manual process of reading vehicle licence plates time consuming and prone to error, it explains the billing fiasco. The message from this is clear. Do not register for e-tags and let’s keep putting the system under pressure. Motorists should at the very least refuse to pay until Sanral has definitively proved that it was their vehicle that used the freeway” says Clarke.
OUTA Chair Wayne Duvenage added that there is a huge difference between errors and deliberate deception. “I have written to Minister Peters to urge her to summons Sanral CEO Nazir Alli to her office to explain how he could possibly claim that the revenue targets have been exceeded by ‘R100 million per month’. She now knows that OUTA’s research is very accurate and can be relied upon. When she puts him on the carpet she might also question why he is campaigning so hard to extend e-tolling to other provinces instead of sorting out the fiasco that is Sanral. She needs to hold him and the Sanral Board accountable for taking such massive risks with public money. Beyond party political interests, Minister Peters must be conscious of what the judgement of history will say.”