The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has announced that it will immediately suspend the process of pursuing e-toll debt through the courts.
In a statement on Wednesday (27 March), the road agency said that this move follows an initiative led by president Cyril Ramaphosa to address the e-tolls payment impasse.
The suspension includes historic debt and summonses applied for from 2015.
“No new summonses will be applied for. This decision will be constantly monitored by the board and reviewed according to prevailing circumstances.
“Sanral is an agency of government and remains committed to delivering on its mission of a safe, efficient, reliable and resilient national road transport system for the benefit of all the people of South Africa.”
E-toll debt doesn’t count against credit
The announcement comes after the Electronic Toll Collection company (ETC) said it was ramping up court action against e-toll users who refused to pay.
The collection company said that it issues between 2,000 and 4,000 summonses per month, and has applied for 1,400 default judgments against motorists, which could lead to them being automatically blacklisted if granted.
Default judgments arise when a debtor does not respond to or defend a summons.
This sparked mild panic among motorists after it was reported that a motorist found out he had been blacklisted when applying for credit, because he owed R60,000 in e-toll fees.
However, credit agencies later clarified that this was a mistake, and said that e-toll debt would not count against credit scores in the country – and any instance where it had would be reversed.
“The Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Act, 2013, which amended the South African National Roads Agency Limited and National Roads Act, 1998, specifically excludes the levying and collecting of e-tolls from the provisions of the National Credit Act, 2005,” it said.
“Credit bureaus receive, hold, display and remove consumer information in accordance with the provisions of the NCA and accordingly are not able to hold information which is specifically excluded from the provisions of the NCA.”
“On behalf of our represented credit bureaus, would like to advise consumers, that information relating to e-tolls / Sanral will not be held on the credit bureaus.”
E-tolling has been an incredibly divisive political issue since its implementation, against public will, in December 2013.
The system has been rejected by Gauteng motorists, with compliance levels sitting between 25% and 30%.
Without high levels of compliance, the debt owed on the system has ballooned to well over R40 billion, and has resulted in Sanral needing multi-billion rand bailouts from national government.
Money that should be used to repair and maintain the entire road network is now being redirected to paying off the e-toll debt.
The ANC, which is also running national government, has put out contradicting views on the matter, with the political party denouncing the system, calling for it to be scrapped, while its members in government insist the system works and will not be going anywhere.