Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

THE SOUTH African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has none to blame but itself for the quandary it is in, after having managed to only collect a quarter of its projected revenue from the contentious electronic tolling system on Gauteng freeways by the end of last year.

This is according to the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance’s (Outa) chairman Wayne Duvenage. His appearance before the portfolio committee follows moves to amend the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act to allow authorities to withhold vehicle licences of those who fail to pay the toll.

Mr Duvenage said Outa’s figures showed that by September last year Sanral had collected about R70m from the tolling system, when it projected that it would collect more than R250m. He said the gap between projected collection and actual collection had to widened.

"I appeal to this committee to seriously look at what is happening. In the first two months that the carrot has been dangled to motorists of a 60% discount and law amendments, they saw less than 1% of an uptake in the first month. The withholding of vehicle licenses will be very problematic on all levels," Mr Duvenage said.

Mr Duvenage said using an unjust law to enforce a just tax would incite a tax revolt and that motorists would continue to drive without valid vehicle licenses.

"Against this backdrop, we saw public resistance grow from Gauteng motorists and it was justified. Less than 20% of people in pay their traffic fines as it is. You can’t have 20% of users paying in a user-pay scheme paying because that inconveniences those that do pay," he said.

Mr Duvenage said it was it was remiss of Sanral to pursue motorists for unpaid e-toll bills when Sanral had, to date, failed to summons any parties involved in the collusion which dogged the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which necessitated the tolls in the first place.

Committee members accepted Mr Duvenage’s criticism over the collusion scandal, but said he was being disingenuous about the lack of consultation with authorities over e-tolls.

Outa took part in consultation processes, which included Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s review panel, into the effect of tolls, and another process that preceded Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s dispensation of reduced bills and discounts.