Gauteng e-tolls: One year later

Johannesburg - On Wednesday December 3 2014 it will be one year ago that the department of transport decided - following a two year delay and late preparation of the regulatory environment - it was all systems go for the launch of Gauteng’s e-toll scheme.

"It was a decision taken against the wishes and warnings of their critics and the public at large," the Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said on Tuesday.

Read: Timeline from 2007-2013

"In the case of e-tolling, those in power believed that by passing a law and forcing an unjust system onto it’s people, it would all simply happen, just as Sanral had convinced them it would."
Outa maintained from the start that the e-toll system would suffer "from its glaring impracticalities, inefficiencies and the inaccuracies of an error riddled e-Natis system".

Without the public’s acceptance, low compliance would eventually render the system unworkable and unenforceable, in Outa's view.

According to Outa it was not forseen by Sanral and the government that:
- The initially stated target of 93% e-toll payment compliance was never achieved by even half that figure and now stands at 35%;

- They underestimated the extent of the impact of an erroneous e-Natis system, which gave rise to many motorists never receiving their e-toll invoices;

- In the absence of Aarto (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences) a switch to the criminal prosecution enforcement process was more problematic and impractical than envisaged;
- The scheme’s complexity gave rise to numerous billing errors and administrative challenges which made the system more unworkable than anticipated;

- The exempted taxi industry would become frustrated and denounce the scheme and virtually none of the 46 000 e-tags allocated to taxis were installed within the first year of operation;

- The Advertising Standards Authorities would rule against their misleading advertising campaign in July 2014;
- The minister of transport’s announcement in July, of an extension to the payment period from seven to 51-days at discounted tariffs, failed to entice greater public participation;

- In addition, these new regulations were never gazetted or even implemented by Sanral;
- The ANC in Gauteng would introduce an advisory panel to assess the impact of e-tolls on the province and would go on to denounced the scheme and express unhappiness at Sanral’s behavior and handling thereof;
- Sanral’s initial rebuttal of the panel’s importance was followed up by four days of presentation, filled with advisory justification and economic reasoning that gave rise to more questions than answers.

“We can only hope that sanity will prevail on the e-toll fiasco, very early in 2015,” said Wayne Duvenage, Outa’s chair.

Outa: Why I Won't Pay for Gauteng's eTolls

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