Happy birthday e-tolls

The Gauteng e-toll system was officially launched on 3 December 2013, after being delayed twice, and challenged in court from a number of opposing sides.

One of the main opponents to the system – Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) – has released a brief overview of the e-tolling’s first year of operation.

Outa, which lost a court batttle to Sanral before the implementation of e-tolls, said that the system’s failure over the past year has vindicated its position on the matter, with many of it’s predictions, made prior to launch, coming true.

“Outa predicted the e-toll system would suffer from its glaring impracticalities, inefficiencies and the inaccuracies of an error riddled e-Natis system,” it said.

“Furthermore, without the public’s acceptance, low compliance would eventually render the system unworkable and unenforceable.”

“For these reasons, we were disappointed but unperturbed when the Minister of Transport and the Sanral entourage announce the system’s launch date of 3rd December,” said John Clarke, Outa’s spokesperson.

“This was a case of self-deception that would come at great cost to the Sanral and society at large, as the system had all the signs of failure”.

Outa highlighted the following short falls of the e-tolling system and Sanral in its first year of operation:

  • Sanral’s initially stated target of 93% e-toll payment compliance was never achieved by even half that figure and now stands at 35%, despite months of intimidation and threats of enforcement.
  • The agency underestimated the extent of the impact of an erroneous e-Natis system, which gave rise to hundreds of thousands of motorists never receiving their e-toll invoices.
  • In the absence of Aarto, a switch to the criminal prosecution enforcement process was more problematic and impractical than envisaged.
  • The scheme’s complexity gave rise to numerous billing errors and administrative challenges which made the system more unworkable than anticipated.
  • The exempted taxi industry would become frustrated and denounce the scheme, and that virtually none of the 46,000 e-tags allocated to taxis were installed within the first year of operation.
  • The Advertising Standards Authorities would rule against their misleading advertising campaign in July 2014.
  • The Minister of Transport’s announcement in July, of an extension to the payment period from seven to 51-days at discounted tariffs, failed to entice greater public participation. In addition, these new regulations were never gazetted or even implemented by Sanral.
  • The ANC in Gauteng would introduce an Advisory panel to assess the impact of e-tolls on the province and would go on to denounced the scheme and express unhappiness at Sanral’s behavior and handling thereof.
  • Sanral’s initial rebuttal of the panel’s importance was followed up by four days of presentation, filled with advisory justification and economic reasoning that gave rise to more questions than answers.

Aside from operational short-comings, Sanral also faced massive backlash from the public at large, with a number of bomb threats and other terror attacks being targeted at the agency’s operation centres.

“Instead of Sanral announcing the scheme’s first anniversary with pride and success, their Board must surely be pondering on where and why it all went so pear-shaped,” Outa said.

More on e-tolls

E-tolls a damn good idea: economist

E-tolls cost 25 cents for every R100 earned

E-tolls are not perfect: transport minister

Gauteng government will ‘seriously consider’ e-toll findings

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Happy birthday e-tolls