As the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) gears up for thousands of default judgments against non-paying e-toll motorists, it has revealed the first of its proposed alternatives to the toll system in order to make up for lost billions it needs for road construction.
According to a report by BusinessDay, Sanral has said that it expects legal processes against motorists who have not paid e-tolls bills to “start soon”, with total compliance expected to range from 30% to 40%.
However the agency also noted that even if it was able to reach the proposed targets, tolling to fund future construction was inadequate and would only add to the country’s road infrastructure backlog.
The alternative is to follow international agencies according to Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project manager Alex van Niekerk.
Speaking at a Transport seminar on Thursday, van Niekerk said that while distance-based tolling would be difficult, it was the most fair alternative in which to collect from motorists.
What is distance-based tolling?
Van Niekerk and other speakers directly mentioned the use of Australia’s distance-based tolling system, which means Sanral is likely to use the Roam system for inspiration.
This would entail the use of GPS technology and will see the roads agency charge motorists per kilometre driven. Certain highways may then have a “hard cap” for distance-traveled meaning motorists would hypothetically be charged for the first 20/30 kilometres travelled only.
The baseline amount payable per kilometre is typically established well ahead of time, but is allowed to fluctuate slightly, with higher tariffs introduced for peak hour traffic and holiday seasons.
This metered system would then see motorists receive a charge at the end of each month (similar to a municipal water and lights bill), that shows total distance traveled over the time period and how usage was calculated.
However the system is not perfect, with Roam recently making headlines for prejudicing commuters that don’t live in the more affluent areas of Sydney, closer to the CBD.
It also prejudices those with limited public transport availability and similar to current municipal statements and traffic fines, can be difficult to fight legally because the motorists does not have direct to the usage reports.