E-tolls pushing consumers over the edge

New applications for debt counselling continued to show an upward trend in the first quarter of 2014, with e-tolls a major contributor in pushing consumers into over-indebtedness.

This is according to debt management firm, Debt Rescue.

Bongi Radebe, head of operations at Debt Rescue pointed out that the increase cannot only be attributed to e-tolls, however, “as other economic factors such as the petrol price, interest rates and inflation that have been on the rise this year. And these factors have a considerable knock on effect on all consumers.”

“However, we are still of the view that e-tolls are a major contributor in pushing consumers into over-indebtedness,” Radebe said.

He said that, even though “an honorable, legal-action-fearing and yet a financially constrained motorist”, purchases an e-tag for his or her monthly commute, they still have to pay R500.

“This monthly fee might not seem steep for some consumers, but it is enough to push consumers who find themselves on the financial knife’s edge and will definitely result in them defaulting on their debt obligations,” Radebe said.

The controversial Gauteng e-toll system went live on 3 December.

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) said it was progressing in registering vehicles, with a figure of 1.24 million users registered by end of February 2014.

“We made Parliament understand that there were no major issues with registered users and that of the 1.2 million registered users, 964,886 (78%) users had purchased an e-tag, with the remainder of 277,431 (22%) opting for the Vehicle Licence Number plate registration,” said Sanral CEO, Nazir Alli.

“We also conceded to Parliament that where we have issues is with unregistered users and the majority of queries included cloned number plates and vehicles without number plates – which we are attending to as a matter of priority and is being done in conjunction with the Department of Transport,” he said.

According to Sanral, since toll commencement, approximately the 2.5 million vehicles have been identified on the Gauteng network.

Sanral has clarified that a previous figure of 999,310 e-tags issued and 282,806 VLNs registered was reflective of total e-tags in March. This would indicate that, to date in March (19th), 34,424 e-tags had been added.

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E-tolls pushing consumers over the edge