The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) says that new data on e-tolls reveals that eight in 10 vehicles who have traveled on the gantry roads in Gauteng would have paid under R100 per month had they been e-tag registered.
Sanral’s research comes amid a final round of consultations to discuss key findings and recommendations made recently by the e-toll panel he set up last year by Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
On Friday, Eyewitness News reported Makhura as saying that e-tolls will not be scrapped, despite its rejection by majority of people in Gauteng.
The Gauteng e-toll system was officially launched on 3 December 2013.
Sanral said that its own figures, collected after a year’s operation of the system, show that of the 5.2 million unique vehicles that were detected when they went under the gantries, 79% would have paid under R100 per month had they been e-tag registered.
“This is actual data we are working with and not scenarios. Therefore, the perception that e-tolls are prohibitively expensive does not stand up to scrutiny. Yes, they are expensive for the non-compliant user and the one who has opted not to take up the 48% discount available to an e-tag registered user,” said Sanral spokesperson, Vusi Mona.
The road agency also highlighted a survey conducted by IPSOS and quoted in the panel’s recent report, which showed that 34% agree to pay for the use of the e-toll (GFIP), 27% are neutral and 38% disagree to pay.
“A four percent difference in such a highly emotional and politicized atmosphere would be splitting hairs. It is not the claimed, by the detractors of the project, massive resistance to the payment of tolls. Sanral would like to thank all those who have continued to do the right thing,” Mona said.
According to Howard Dembovsky, National chairman of the Justice Project South Africa noted that Makhura has said that he will wrap up consultations by the end of February and will thereafter take the Gauteng Provincial Government’s recommendations to National Government.
“The Panel has categorically stated that the e-tolling policy ‘in its current form’ must be reviewed; it found it to be inefficient and unpopular with the people and has further labelled it as being both anti-poor and the perfection of apartheid; it has simultaneously recommended that it should be retained in a subtly different manner as part of a so-called hybrid funding model,” Dembovsky said.
He added that it has further been recommended that Phase 1 of the GIFP should be funded solely by the Gauteng Province and that a levy on fuel should not be part of the “hybrid funding model” for what comprises the current e-tolls debacle.
In stark contrast, a levy on fuel has not been excluded from the recommendations for the hybrid funding of Phases 2 & 3 of the GFIP, the JPSA lead said.
Dembovsky said he is not optimistic about the final recommendations.
“It is apparent that admitting that a blunder has been made in attempting to force e-tolls down the throats of Gauteng residents does not form part of the agenda.”