E-tolls under constant hack attack: report

The controversial Gauteng e-tolling system has come under a constant attack of hackers, but is in no way nearing collapse, according to the CEO of Electronic Toll Collection (ETC).

Speaking to the Citizen newspaper, ETC CEO, Jamie Surkont, said that the biggest challenges faced by the company have come from its reliance on other systems – such as the eNatis system for unregistered and untagged motorists – as well as a general stance of hostility towards the system.

The CEO revealed that the e-tolling system has been under constant attacks from hackers for the past six months.

However, he refuted that the system will collapse and requires 85% compliance to operate, as stated by Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), saying that the system would simply be more efficient at those rates.

The e-toll’s reliance on eNatis and external systems to track and bill road users has lead to a large number of billing issues, however.

According to complaints received by Outa and a number of other firms, incorrect bill amounts, incorrect vehicle and number plate associations and unresponsive customer care handling were but a few issues raised by motorists.

As reported by the Citizen, more than 2,000 dead people were also incorrectly billed, and more than 50,000 vehicle owners could not be identified by searching their number plate in the eNatis database.

Nazir Alli
Nazir Alli

The mounting billing issues have been acknowledged by both Sanral as well as the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, after the issue was criticised by president Jacob Zuma.

Sanral has been ordered by Peters to fix the billing mess, though maintains that complaints have been in the vast minority, affecting only 0.3% of road users.

Speaking to the Parliament portfolio committee on transport, Sanral CEO Nazir Alli blamed the issues on “teething problems” associated with slow internet payments, complex queries from motorists, an inaccurate eNatis system, and number plate cloning.

Alli, however, reiterated that “the tolls system is stable”.

According to Surkont, ETC is processing 60 to 65 million transactions a month, has trained 58 new staff memebers to deal with complex queries, and is working with the DoT to improve its eNatis records.

More on Sanral and e-tolls

Transport Minister concedes to e-toll billing mess

Why e-tolls are unconstitutional

Why e-tolls are ridiculous: economist

E-tolls blamed for the rise in cloned plates

Sanral processing 3 million transactions daily

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E-tolls under constant hack attack: report