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I Bought an E-Tag Thing

18 April 2012, 22:01

OK, before we all get to throwing abuse below in the comments section, please read this the whole way through.

I do not like this new toll road system any more than anyone else outside of SANRAL. The only thing SANRAL's "road upgrades" have done have moved traffic jams slightly down the road. A certain previous President, alas, canned plans for more highways at the same time as they cancelled more power stations, so like Eskom hikes we are stuck with them.

I do wish the tolls had been a bit more pro-active - provide a good public transport network and make that exempt, allow exemption for people whose tax return shows an income less than, say R100k and make it so expensive for trucks and lorries to use between 6am and 6pm that they are off the road in peak hours, the latter being in place around the world.

I understand the protests, but I do not understand why they are being made now, 2 or so weeks before implementation, when they are destined to fail. It was never a secret that the new roads would be toll roads, and this has been public knowledge since at least 2009.

In the last 2 or so years I have not heard of any intervention, threat of legal action or protest - least of all not from a certain little provincial radio station that presumes to Lead the citizens of the area it presumes to be the voice of. Advertising revenue outweighs public interest, I suppose.

Those who are following the call not to buy and install one of these E-Tag devices are taking a chance. Protesters are claiming that if no one has them then it will be impossible for SANRAL to enforce charges. This is quite dangerous thinking, since camera technology seems to work perfectly well capturing and tracking speeding motorists; why is it you believe it will not do the same for people using the toll roads?

The way I see it, R50 up front and lower toll costs vs the chance that these protests will work and the whole thing will be scrapped was a no-brainer. SANRAL do not have my banking details and I can top it up pretty much how one charges a cellphone.

Should these legal challenges and protests fail to change anything - and I do not presume that they will - then all who have opted to drive without the E-Tag thing are in all likelihood going to receive a possibly large and certainly unpleasant bill at some stage. I'm not saying everyone go and buy one, but I am saying protest away, but understand and accept that there will be a cost if the protest fails. It's a down side that the numerous "stop the tolls" campaigners are not mentioning.

It is, however, worth noting that if the protests and legal action are a success, the debt does not vanish. Should the toll system be taken away, understand we shall be paying one way or another. It will probably take the form of an increase in the fuel levy, but could also be an increase in VAT and indeed personal income tax rates.

Something that certain young political leaders tend not to understand is that freedom of speech has a price. That price is having to read and hear things you don't like in return for saying and writing things that others do not like.

What I have written here will no doubt offend some of the more passionate anti-toll protesters, and I am sure there will be one or two abusive comments left for me. Fine, no problem, but do please consider giving some thought to what I have said here too.

Happy driving.

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