E-toll dispensation – same farce, different lipstick

In response to today’s announcement by the Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) is disappointed to hear that government has decided to hold onto the e-toll scheme as the major funding mechanism to settle the GFIP Bonds.

20/05/2015 11:38:51

E-toll dispensation – same farce, different lipstick

While Government says they have lowered the tariffs, effectively they have not. They have merely removed the punitive tariff, which no-one was paying anyway and if the public were to pay in the past, they would have purchased an e-tag for the same rate of 30c per kilometer. The reduced cap from R450 to R225 per month only appeals to less that 10% of the motorists, as over 90% of users would not have exceeded that cap in the past anyway. Reducing the outstanding bills by 60% is a carrot the public will not fall for.

Unfortunately, the authorities have not addressed the following issues which make the scheme unjustifiable:

  • The expensive contracts with ETC (Kapsch TrafficCom) remain unchanged and in place. The lower tariffs effectively push up the costs of collection as a percentage of revenue generated to an unacceptable level. For as long as the collection costs related to the Kapsch TrafficCom contracts remain in place, society cannot be expected to support the scheme.

  • The scheme was initially introduced on the back of a meaningless public engagement process, in contravention of Section 195 of the constitution of South Africa.

  • The odious debt related to the construction company collusion costs are estimated to be around R7,1 billion. Until this money is recovered from the construction companies, and all who profiteered unduly during the construction process, society cannot be expected to pay for this debt.

  • The public also have very little option but to use road based transport in Gauteng, due to a dismal public transport alternative which is virtually incapable of serving the needs of the current road users in the province.

  • The onerous conditions related to the scheme and all its related inefficiencies and cumbersome processes have not been addressed and for this reason it remains largely unworkable.

While the government may think they have resolved their enforcement of the unjust system by linking the payment of e-tolls to the renewal of vehicle licenses, they have overlooked the many other unintended consequences that will arise out of this decision. We believe this action will spawn a whole new illegal license discs and number plate industry in South Africa. It will also force many road users to drive unlicensed vehicles. Cars will be licensed in other provinces and several other problems for the vehicle licensing authorities will arise out of this decision, not to mention the reduced license revenues for the region. There is also bound to be a legal challenge mounted against this decision.

OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.