I must be a sucker for punishment, always writing stories with outrageous admissions, but hey: yes, bought an e-Tag! Not now, either - I bought it months ago, back when it first seemed like the system would go live.
My reasons for doing so?
1 - If you don't have an e-Tag, you won't qualify for the discounts, and chances are that there's going to be a mad rush for tags when it becomes clear the system is going live. I don't trust there to be an adequate supply, so best to get one now.
2 - If your car doesn't have an e-Tag, it's going to be tolled via its number plate. Once e-Tolling goes live, how many false number plates are we going to have, as people who staunchly won't or cannot pay have no problem stealing number plates? Having an e-Tag in your vehicle will prevent this fraud, because your number plate will be paired to your e-Tag
3 - I don't drive much on the highways. Every time I've moved house, I've made sure to stay within a 10km radius of work. I don't understand why more people don't do this (the people doing the suicidal Pretoria to JHB run daily earn my respect).
A misconception about e-Tags: you pay R50 when you register, but that R50 goes onto your account as credit. The e-Tags themselves are impressive little bits of kit: well-packaged, clearly durable and not some horrible blight for your windscreen.
I'm watching all the fuss about e-Tags now with a fair amount of resignation. We accept that the user pays principle is a fair one, arguments about 'What does the government do with our taxes?' being pretty moot. None of us know, nor do we have the time to scrutinise government expenditure to the nth degree. We have to trust the people who do, which at the moment is OUTA: if they cannot do anything to prevent the system, we're not going to.
In my experience, the highway upgrades have helped the flow of traffic in Johannesburg. We pay all the time with petrol to arrive at our destinations quicker - why is it that we aren't prepared to pay for the upgrades which are already getting us home sooner?
To those brave individuals who're staunchly proclaiming 'Let them come and arrest me!', good luck. You should really pick your fights better. Chances are in the long run you'll probably save yourself a lot of money and hassle by just getting an e-Tag now, while they're still readily available.
The facts are well known:
1 - The government has to service the debt incurred
2 - The longer it takes to service that debt, the more debt there will be
3 - South Africa's credit rating has already been impaired by the delays
4 - We can't expect all of SA to subsidise our new roads through a petrol tariff
That maybe the road upgrades should never have taken place simply because we cannot afford it/aren't willing to pay for them is moot. That there wasn't adequate public consultation is equally moot - the public doesn't want to consult when it comes to them having to pay (just see the reports on the mindless shouting and walk-outs at the most recent public information sessions).
Just maybe this is all going to be a Good Thing. If this system came about under the ANC's watch, and it inconveniences the majority of the ANC's poor electorate in some manner, then maybe we'll have another incentive for political change in the country. Every little bit helps, from election to election.
For now, grin and bear it: go get your e-Tags like good little boys and girls, and look for what positive there is. Or don't, and risk it on a biscuit. Aluta Continua.
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