e-Toll debt for not using road

2014-01-27 00:00

LIVING in a town hundreds of kilometres away from Johannesburg is not going to spare you from getting demands to pay e-tolls, a Pietermaritzburg woman has found.

Keshnee Soorju of Orient Heights near Allandale — who has not been to Johannesburg in the last three years — said the South African National Road Agency (Sanral) has handed her over to debt collectors for failing to settle her e-toll bill.

The last time her car was in Johannesburg was on February 1, 2013 when her son drove it there, way before the launch of the e-tolls.

She said since the beginning of the year, she has received at least four SMSes demanding varying amounts of payment, with one SMS telling her she has been handed over for debt collection.

“This all started in January this year. I started receiving SMSes saying that I should pay the e-toll account. They demanded that I pay R346 in that region. A week later I received another SMS, which was quite a nasty one, saying I have been handed over to debt collectors.”

She said she called Sanral offices to find out what was going on. “I told them I received the SMS saying I must pay but I have not used their road. They were quite rude and said that if I received an SMS, I should pay.”

Last week, she said she received at least two other SMSes demanding more than R1 000, twice the amount that they had first billed her for less than two weeks ago.

One SMS she received and forwarded to The Witness, says, “Payment for e toll VPC tax invoice for R1 643,73 is outstanding. Make a payment now to prevent further action”.

The SMS has no name, no car make or licence number plates or even the days that she allegedly passed the tolling gantries. “I do not know what I am going to do. I’ll have to wait to get a letter and then see a lawyer, but that will all cost money for nothing. I would also like to know where they got my number,” said Soorju.

The contentious e-toll billing system has been plagued by problems. The Times newspaper reported that the consumer watchdog, the National Consumer Commission, had warned Sanral to improve its billing.

It said motorists have been receiving text messages from Sanral demanding payment, but these lack detail and proof of authenticity.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received over 300 e-toll billing complaints from the public. John Clarke, spokesperson for the Opposition for Urban Tolling Alliance, said the organisation had received at least 900 complaints from the public, which they were taking to the public protector to investigate.

Sanral was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of going to press.

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