Dummy’s guide to paying for road use

2011-02-12 17:06

Like death and taxes, paying tolls for the privilege of using South Africa’s national roads will soon be a permanent fact of life.

Not in the old snail’s way at the toll booth, however. The thousands of commuters who use the ­freeway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the busiest road in South Africa, will soon learn to do it the new electronic way.

How does the new toll system work?
Overhead gantries fitted with equipment able to recognise an electronic transponder (e-tag) in your vehicle and/or your vehicle’s number plates will enable the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to bill you.

The e-tolling system allows you to travel without having to stop at a toll booth.

How do you pay?
Funds will be deducted from your registered e-toll account. You will receive your account via SMS or email.

How do you register an e-toll account?
You will have a variety of options, including registering through a website, at an e-toll kiosk located in a mall or at any of the customer service centres to be located along the freeway. You can also contact the Sanral call centre or buy an immediately useable e-tag at retail outlets such as Checkers, Pick n Pay, Spar, and Engen and BP garages.

The e-tag is supplied by Sanral at no cost, but when you request an e-tag you will be required to deposit a minimum amount, to be specified by Sanral, into your e-tolling account. This credit will allow you free toll passes to the value of the amount.

More than one vehicle can be linked to an e-tolling account.

The tags can be used at any toll plaza point that displays the e-tag symbol.

You will therefore not need to set up new or additional accounts as electronic tolling is implemented ­countrywide.

Bakwena e-tag holders, for example, do not need to re-register their accounts, which will simply be migrated to the new e-tolling system from April this year.

How do you deposit money into your e-toll account?
Do it via retail outlets, over the internet, at an e-toll kiosk, ATMs and/or e-toll customer service centres.

You can also link your e-tolling account to your credit card account.

Will you be able to bypass the system?
Do not try the “no number” or fraudulent number plate trick. Sanral intends increasing law enforcement on the toll network. Special vehicles with number plate recognition equipment will roam the network.

Are alternative routes between Johannesburg and Pretoria available?
You can use either the Old Johannesburg Road or the R55, but at your peril.

Automobile Association spokesperson Gary Ronald does not regard these roads as safe.

They are in “serious need of rehabilitation”, he says. And they are congested.

What will your money pay for?
Variable message signs, CCTV cameras and incident management services which will allow Sanral to detect and warn road users of any incidents and to dispatch emergency services ­immediately.

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