Sanral is currently receiving next to nothing from e-tolls, despite an increase in the number of summonses being sent out.
According to a statement released by Outa on Friday (28 September), this is because the e-tolls collection contract has just two months left and lawyers are increasing the number of summonses issued – which ups their fees but not the collections.
It added that recent answers to questions put to the minister of transport in Parliament on e-tolls revealed that only 3,724 (24%) of the 15,505 summonses issued from April 2015 to August 2018 have actually been served on the defendants.
Of the summonses served 1,320 are being defended with Outa’s lawyers currently defending 1,028 of those cases under its e-tolls defence umbrella (78% of all cases being defended).
The minister’s reply indicates that R10.231 million was collected through this legal process from January 2016 to August 2018, while Electronic Toll Collections (ETC) spent R4.6 million on legal fees to collect this.
This is compared to the total outstanding e-toll debt of about R11 billion, Outa said.
Last minute push
The statistics provided by the minister show last-minute attempts to increase the number of summonses.
In the last two months – July and August 2018 – a total of 4,055 summonses were drafted, which was 67% of the summonses since January 2018 and 26% of all summonses since April 2015.
However, most of these summonses are not actually served on the defendants, Outa said.
According to the organisation, in July and August only 345 summonses were actually served on defaulters.
“If one unpacks these figures, one can only assume the real beneficiaries of the exorbitant effort of summonsing 15 505 e-toll defaulters are the collection agency’s lawyers – Durban-based Morris Fuller Williams Attorneys,” said Rudie Heyneke, Outa’s transport portfolio manager.
He added that the collection of e-tolls is run by Electronic Toll Collections (ETC) which is contracted by Sanral. The ETC’s five-year collection contract started on 3 December 2013 and is due to expire by December 2018.
“ETC’s contract has about two months to run, whereafter there will be no collection agency,” said Heyneke.
“Lawyers get richer whilst Sanral gets poorer and more motorists defy a scheme which has become one of Government’s biggest policy failure.”
“All debts incurred before 28 September 2015 have now prescribed if a summons was not served on a defaulter within the three-year limit. Those debts cannot be collected on.”