Wayne Duvenage, chairperson of civil society group, Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), says he is interested to know how SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) arrived at its latest proposal of R100 reduction in the capped monthly price for its e-toll project.
On Friday (24 May), draft regulations and notices were published in the Government Gazette detailing how the tolls will work. The regulations also proposed a reduction of a R550 cap by R100 per month to R450 for cars (Class A2).
According to Outa, the regulations were released without any public notification or announcement to the general public. “On such an emotive matter, one would think their web site would have clear links on their home page and advertisements in the press, inviting the public to comment on these proposed tariffs and regulations,” Duvenage said.
“We are not surprised and have come to expect this lack of open communication and transparency from Sanral, a state owned enterprise that has ignored the input, insights and will of the people for too long,” he said.
The new tariffs have had little change from the previous notices, besides a reduction of the R550 cap by R100 per month to R450 for cars (Class A2). “They will no doubt try to sell this as a massive gain for society in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of a public that is now much wiser to their antics than Sanral gives them credit for,” Outa said.
The opposition organisation noted that Sanral recently indicated that 96.3% of users will pay under R300, in an attempt to lure the road-users into “getting tagged”.
“This use of averages is very misleading, as the amount due by thousands of regular commuters from Tshwane to Johannesburg or from West to East will be well over R300 per month.
“If this high percentage of users will pay less than R300, why not then lower the maximum to R300? Clearly Sanral expects a significant portion of their revenue to come from those users who exceed the R300 threshold and hence the modest decrease to only R450,” Outa said.
“We are also interested to know how Sanral arrived at the R100 reduction and how they feel this has addressed the thousands of objections from road users” said Duvenage.
The implementation of e-tolls on Gauteng highways is imminent, the transport department and the national roads agency said on Sunday (26 May).
“There are a few steps left in this process, but the implementation of the e-toll system is well on its way,” SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) head Nazir Alli said in a statement issued with the transport department.
This is despite a clear rejection by virtually all sectors of society, Outa said.
“What they blindly ignore is the fact that Gauteng road users are angry about being charged twice for their roads (fuel levies & general taxes plus tolls) and are further punished by paying VAT on the toll charges,” said Duvenage.
The weekend’s press quoted, Sanral’s Mr Nazir Alli saying that “tolling is a sustainable way of paying for the upgrade of the Gauteng freeway system”.
“Yet Gauteng road users will fork out almost as much to pay for the collection process as it is to pay for the road upgrade (including interest), which makes it an extremely expensive and irrational, in a city where alternative transport and routes are virtually non-existent,” Outa said.
More on e-tolls and Sanral