A new ad campaign by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) appears to promote the controversial e-toll system as the only option, at the expense of alternative roads deemed to be unsafe for travel.
Khanyi Mbau, a South African television personality, actress and socialite says in the advert that, as a single mother and artist, it was difficult to have to accept e-tolls.
“I hated it, in fact I wanted to stop driving forever,” she said.
However, the TV personality said that, since changes have been made, “I’ve got a slight change of heart”.
“As a woman, and I always have to get to gigs in the odd hours of the evening, using alternative routes is not an option: smash and grab, crime. E-tolls, no robots, not waiting, it gets you there quicker.”
Sanral has always previously pointed to side roads as a viable and affordable alternative to e-tolls in Gauteng.
Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa announced the new dispensation for the implementation of the e-toll system in May after the initial system launched in December 2013, was largely rejected by the public.
The new dispensation includes a fee reduction to 30 cents per kilometre, from 58 cents, for people using e-roads, while the monthly cap for e-toll road users has been adjusted to R225, from R450 previously.
Motorists will have to pay their outstanding e-tolls upon renewal of vehicle licences,
while all current outstanding e-toll bills will be discounted by 60%, with road users given 6 months to pay these off, the deputy president said in May.
Those with outstanding e-toll payments may not be able to renew their car licence disc in the future, the government warned.
Sanral also used endorsements from Minnie Dlamini, a South African TV presenter, and Metro FM DJ, Thabo Molefe, in its latest campaign.
Justice Project South Africa said it is concerned about the apparent involvement of the Gauteng Provincial Government in the advertising campaign.
Howard Dembovsky, chairman of JPSA, said: “With so many other urgent issues which require funding in Gauteng, it is surprising that the Gauteng Provincial Government would choose to spend money on producing and airing as well as paying so-called ‘celebrities’ to promote e-tolling instead of spending it where it is truly needed.”
At the end of each of these adverts, there appears the logo of the Gauteng Provincial Government, Dembovsky noted.
“It is apparent that the Gauteng Provincial Government has chosen its side and is prepared to waste even more money on trying to convince people that tolling our urban routes is ‘the better way to go’.”
“Serious questions as to where and when budget was approved by the Gauteng Provincial Government to engage in pro e-tolling advertising need to be asked, particularly in light of the fact that it is doubtful whether a handful of ‘celebrities’ who have clearly been paid to promote e-tolling will have much effect on anything other than branding themselves as mercenary sell-outs, just like the young lady who was similarly paid to laud the roadside assistance Sanral sometimes provides on the GFIP,” Dembovsky said.
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