E-tolls for Christmas: transport minister

Government aims to implement e-tolling for Gauteng roads before December, according to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, who says that the system will benefit everyone.

President Jacob Zuma recently signed into law the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, which paves the way for the implementation of e-tolling.

The minister told the SABC’s Morning Live that the tariffs for the tolls will now be advertised for a period of 30 for public comment. “After the tariffs are advertised, there will be a period of 30 days for public comment. 7-14 days, after that 30 days, we will be implementing,” she said.

A legal expert has said that if you want to avoid six month imprisonment, and payment of a fine, you will just have to go and buy your e-tag and pay for e-tolls.

With the majority of motorists not yet collecting an e-tag for the tolling system, Peters warned: “People were waiting for the Act, and people were waiting for the tariffs….but now it is law.”

“We are all benefiting, in particular those who are working and living in Gauteng,” the minister said.

Tshiamo Sedumedi, MD of MNS Attorneys told the SABC morning news programme that currently, from a legal point of view, the only way to prevent e-tolling from going ahead would be based on  a ruling from the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA).

Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), is currently awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court of Appeal’s (SCA) ruling on its appeal against e-tolling.

Outa is a group of business associations and individuals, and was formed in March 2012 to challenge Sanral’s decision to implement e-tolling of Gauteng’s recently upgraded freeway network. It felt the decision was irrational, unreasonable, and illegal.

Sedumedi noted that the North Gauteng High Court had already ruled on the matter to implement e-tolls.

“So up until the SCA has pronounced itself on the matter, unfortunately the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill is the only option we have as a country,” Sedumedi said. “From a legal point of view, this is the only route we must follow.”

He said that by not complying with this law, until the court ruled otherwise, South Africans would be breaking the law, pointing to harsh penalties for non-compliance with e-tolls.

Sedumedi said that falling foul of the Sanral Act could see motorists criminally convicted, and imprisoned for a period of six months, with a fine.

“In addition to that, Sanral has the powers to recover all the fees owed, so these are quite harsh mechanisms,” Sedumedi said.

He noted, however, that this had always been the case, since 1998, when the Sanral act had been passed and had nothing to do with e-tolls.

The legal expert said it was difficult to call on the strength of Outa’s case, stressing that the North Gauteng High Court had already ruled in favour of Sanral.

“The courts have already given an indication where the wind is blowing. But obviously the SCA is not bound by the decision of the North Gauteng High Court.”

“At this stage if you had to make a judgement, you would say, so far, it is one round in favour of government,” he said.

What will happen if I don’t pay?

Any contravention of the Act is a criminal offence and, if found guilty, motorists can be fined or subjected to imprisonment not exceeding six months. The legislation also imposes a civil fine of R 1,500.

The legislation also gives Sanral the choice to decide whether to pursue you in civil law or criminal.

Sanral FAQ

Out of the mouth of Sanral, on its website:

If e-toll transactions are not paid within the seven day grace period. The Grace Period is the time frame which a road user has in which to pay their outstanding fees.

The Grace Period is 7 days from the time of your transaction, these transactions are handed over to the the Violations Processing Centre (VPC). The overdue e-toll transactions will increase to the Alternative userAn alternate user is a user who does not qualify for any discounts at the time of an e-toll transaction and will pay standard e-toll tariff rates.

An alternate user is identified at the time of the e-toll transaction by an e-tag or a VLN or by both where applicable. e-toll tariffs and the discounts will be forfeited. A debt collection and prosecution process will commence.

More on e-tolls

People want e-tolls: Transport Minister

E-tolls or fuel levy: Sanral can’t have both

E-tolls will force SA middle class into poverty

E-toll bill signing an insult: DA

Signing e-toll bill unwise: Outa

E-tolling is happening in 2013: minister

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E-tolls for Christmas: transport minister