No e-tolls in a DA-governed Gauteng

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has further outlined its ambitions to win South Africa’s wealthiest province, Gauteng, in next year’s election – pledging to have e-tolls scrapped.

DA party leader Helen Zille said in June: “What seemed unimaginable a few years ago is now looking likely. The DA is marching towards victory in Gauteng next year.”

On Wednesday (28 August) Mmusi Maimane, DA candidate for Premier of Gauteng used the current e-toll mess as a means to justify why the DA should take control of the region.

“There is no place for e-tolls in a DA-governed Gauteng. People don’t want e-tolls. They are too expensive and people are already stretched financially.

“My pledge to the residents of this province is that, as Premier, I will do everything in my power to stop e-tolling in its tracks.”

“Not only are e-tolls unfair, they will not work,” Maimane said alluding to new documents released by the party for the first time on Wednesday, which were brought to the attention of DA Shadow Minister of Transport, Ian Ollis MP.

The documents relate to the implementation of the Aarto Act, which governs how municipal authorities adjudicate and collect traffic fines, in the City of Johannesburg and the City of Tshwane.

Both these metros have been implementing the programme since 2008, and have made use of the same eNatIS system that will be used for e-tolling in the province.

The Working Group report revealed that:

  • In 2011/12 89.54% of required payments in terms of Aarto remained unpaid by road users; and that the figure was 87.56% in the 2012/13 financial year;
  • The total amount that remains unpaid over these two years is R2.096 billion;
  • The 50% discount which is applicable to payments made within 32 days are completely ignored and that people “simply prefer not to pay at all”;
  • The sending out of courtesy letters for payment was suspended in July 2012 because of a lack of funds. The total amount over these two years for the sending out these letters was more than R30 million;
  • Only 0.58% of all required enforcement orders were distributed in 2011/12 and 2.4% in 2012/13.

The Aarto pilot project status report, dated 26 July 2013 also showed:

  • The role players (City of Johannesburg and Tshwane) are not in a state of readiness to implement AARTO;
  • Due to budget constraints, “there was a period that all Johannesburg Aarto infringement notices were sent by ordinary mail in direct conflict with Section 30(1)” and therefore illegal;
  • JMPD has had “wasteful” expenditure of approximately R60 million up to the end of June 2013 as the 2.4 million cases mailed out are outside  the timeframes  in terms of the Aarto Act and regulations;
  • The compliance figure or payment rate of infringement notices has dropped to less than 5% and is as low as 1%;
  • If it is not adequately addressed before the end of July 2013, “the Johannesburg Metro Police Department will be required to stop all law enforcement or to revert back to the illegal process of sending out infringement notices by normal mail”.

“These revelations indicate clearly that the means to collect and enforce fines in Gauteng simply does not exist,” Maimane said, adding that implementation of e-tolls is therefore doomed to fail.

“It also worryingly shows that traffic law enforcement on roads in our big cities in Gauteng is on the brink of collapse. This will have a devastating effect on efforts to reduce the number of lives lost on our roads if not urgently addressed.”

The e-tolls have been criticised by a number of organisations, including the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

The civil society group, Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), has fought a lengthy court battle to prevent the implementation of e-tolling.

The High Court in Pretoria granted Outa leave to appeal its dismissal of the civil group’s application to have e-tolling scrapped, and this will be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein in September.

In 2009, the DA claimed 21.86% of Gauteng, with the ANC at 64.04%, however, in the 2011 municipal elections, it received 33% and the ANC 60%.

More on e-tolls

Sanral dismisses DA e-toll claims

R381 million to track down e-toll transgressors?

Sanral’s e-toll advertising budget soars

Sanral seeks R1.48 billion from banks

E-toll enforcement impossible: DA

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No e-tolls in a DA-governed Gauteng