The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says that less than 20% of defaulting road users contacted for collection of e-toll bills, flatly refuse to pay.
The road agency said that there is little more than a month to go before the current 60% reduction offer on historic e-toll debt expires.
This once-off discount applies to all unpaid e-tolls levied on the inner-Gauteng highways since it was implemented on 3 December 2013 and 31 August 2015.
Sanral spokesperson, Vusi Mona said that the response to the discount offer ‘has so far been encouraging’, as has the steadily increasing number of road users who are paying their e-toll accounts.
Mona warned that no extension will be granted to motorists after April.
He said that the success of the 60% discount can only reasonably be gauged after the discount period ends, as many are waiting until the last minute to take up the offer.
He noted that some people and businesses have indicated that they are delaying payment for as long as possible in order for them to ‘earn’ interest on the money.
“Making definitive statements about the success or failure of the project at this time would be like wishing on a star – it may make you feel better, but it ultimately means nothing,” Mona said.
Sanral said that road users are currently paying R80 million to R90 million in e-toll revenue per month, up from R60 million in August/September last year. “Though this is lower than earlier projections, we are encouraged by the upward trend. Slow and steady wins the race,” said Mona.
Sanral, like other parastatals and government agencies and departments, must demonstrate its commitment to collect outstanding debt as required in terms of the law, the road agency said.
“Although everyone, including those opposed to the system and non-payers, has express concern about the impact of a downgrade of the sovereign and individual credit ratings, they fail to see the direct role their actions have on ratings, Mona said.
Sanral pointed out that ratings agency Moody’s has stated that a downgrade in Sanral’s ratings could happen because: ‘An inability to effectively enforce e-toll payments, leading to deteriorating cash flows and increased borrowing needs, would apply downward rating pressure’.
“This is the very reason why we are now summonsing those who owe e-tolls. It is distressing and need not have happened. The perception that e-tolls are prohibitively expensive is not based on fact. Government has addressed the issue of affordability by reducing the monthly caps and offering a 60% discount on the historic debt,” Mona said.
Sanral pointed out that if motorists are registered – do not have to have a tag – their monthly fees are capped at R236 – this is for light motor vehicle.
“Our research has shown that 78% of light motor vehicles will pay less than R100 a month with 44% of those paying less than R25 a month. It is only if you are not tagged or registered, and you don’t pay within 30 days of going under the gantry, that the costs increase,” said Mona.