E-tolls saga continues

By Danielle van Wyk

Following a statement released by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) on Tuesday, the call for the scrapping of e-tolls is sounding louder than ever. With OUTA chairperson Wayne Duvenhage calling once again for the scrapping of the e-toll system, effective immediately. This comes in the same week as attention around the yearly R390 million government funding initiative in aid of South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) to cover its shortfalls, is scrutinised. 

“Following the recent admission by SANRAL Spokesman, Mr Vusi Mona, that SANRAL have only collected less than 1% (R40 million) of the outstanding e-toll debt during the first month of the e-toll discount dispensation, OUTA is now convinced that the e-Toll scheme has officially collapsed,” stated OUTA.

This is despite SANRAL’s olive branch of offering the public a 60% discount if they settled their outstanding debt in the time between November 2015 and April 2016.

‘’Their dispensation offer is supported by another multi-million rand marketing campaign and kicked into play on the 2 November, and has clearly been a disaster, if it has only managed to raise a dismal R40 million, which is less than 1%, of the outstanding debt,” Duvenhage said.

OUTA has further suggested and come out in support of the move to implement a fuel levy in place of the e-toll system, recognizing that ‘people need to pay in order to have good road infrastructure.’

Duvenhage further clarified why the usage of the fuel levy would make better sense and “that it was hypocritical of Government to say that the fuel levy is not a favoured mechanism because it impacts the poor harder, when they have gone ahead and increased the fuel levy by 92% over the past eight years.

“Furthermore, there are economists who denounce the claim that e-tolls will have a lesser impact on the poor than the fuel levy. What’s more, our calculations show that a mere R0.09 increase in the levy in 2007 – when the e-toll GFIP project was in its final planning stages – would have produced sufficient revenue to cover the full capital costs of the GFIP project by today.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in support of OUTA also stated:“As it stands the collection of e-tolls is administratively burdensome and expensive as opposed to e-toll payments funded through the fuel levy which is easy and costs nothing to collect.

“Not only is the collection of e-tolls expensive but the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) are failing to collect even a third of the money they had projected, meaning they are incurring massive losses.”

SANRAL in conjunction with the Directorship for the Gauteng Freeway Movement Project, however, despite experiencing major revenue shortfalls and as a result needing government funding, remain positive that with the implementation of the new detailed dispensation between national government and the province of Gauteng, will see a turnaround in motorist compliance.

Facts remain that “almost two years since e-tolls kicked in, SANRAL is in a worse financial position than before. E-tolls are an exorbitantly costly project, needing SANRAL to pay over R670 million per year to the Austrian company that operates the system,” the DA said.

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