The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has moved to clarify its position relating to an alleged plan to fine motorists who are boycotting the e-toll system.
The government aims to amend the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act to include e-toll infringements.
The Department of Transport published the Gazette on 7 December 2015, which requests comment from the public before 6 January 2016.
According to Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), the purpose of the change is to accommodate the inclusion of outstanding e-toll bills into the normal traffic fine and violations process.
Sanral has, however, refuted those claims. “Failure to pay tolls has been an infringement under the AARTO legislation since 2008. To leave the impression, as Outa does, that the regulatory changes to Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) proposed in the Government Gazette on December 7 are new, is completely off the mark,” said Vusi Mona, GM of communications at Sanral.
“What the changes do mean, though, is positive for motorists – the only amendment to provisions relating to toll infringements is the removal of the demerit points for the failure to comply with a toll sign,” he said.
He said that Outa completely misunderstands the proposed change, warning instead about a looming tax revolt. “This is a clear case where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
Mona said the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) proposes that AARTO notices should have room for notification of more than one infringement. “This is legal. Should anybody wish to contest an infringement notice, photographic evidence on which this can be based is available,” he said.
“The other proposed amendment is regarding the extension of the period for service of an infringement notice from 40 to 90 days. This is proposed to allow for a more practical arrangement that will ensure that alleged infringers receive notices within the service period.”
Sanral stressed that this should not be connected with e-tolling , calling it ‘another misjudgment’.
“A multiple charge notice may be used by any issuing authority for any infringements. It is in fact simply a practical amendment that will save administrative and postal costs.”
Sanral also stated that there is confusion about the need to include the name of the magisterial district where the infringement occurred. This is not necessary in terms of the AARTO act, but is in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act,” it said.
“These are the facts. Thus there is no attempt to introduce any new provisions,” said Mona.
Outa said that by Tuesday morning, it has received more than 70,000 responses from motorists following the new proposals.