Tag: etolls

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) has lambasted renewed claims from SANRAL that the non-payment of e-tolls would result in motorists being unable to renew their vehicle licence discs.

“The South African National Roads Agency Limited’s (SANRAL) insistence at the weekend that the non-payment of e-tolls will result in motorists being unable to renew vehicle licence discs is outrageous, dishonest and irregular,” the association stated.

The AAA was responding to a report in the City Press, in which the newspaper cited a section on the SANRAL website pertaining to outstanding toll fees which had to be settled before the renewal of a vehicle licence disc:

The non-payment of toll may result in road users not being issued with their vehicle license disc, upon renewal of the vehicle license. Road users will be able to renew licences, but the disc itself will be withheld until the outstanding toll related infringements have been settled.

The AA said the inclusion on SANRAL’s website was not new, but it remains up and is referenced by SANRAL as its position on non-payment of tolls despite the fact that government still has to pronounce on the future of e-tolls in Gauteng.

“This paragraph gives the impression that the issue of e-tolls is finalised when, in fact, it is still very much in the air,” the AA said.

“By suggesting through this wording on their website – and alluding to such in interviews – that this is a done deal, SANRAL is again demonstrating how desperate it is to coerce the public into paying for something they have taken a principled stand against paying,” the AA stated.

The AA said that the resurfacing of this issue again raised questions about how SANRAL interacts with the public, apparently preferring a heavy-handed approach to one genuinely interested in resolving the issue through the proper channels.

In addition, any efforts at debt collection contradict SANRAL’s earlier position that it was suspending efforts to pursue outstanding debt until a resolution on the future of e-tolls is announced.

Pre-empting the Minister
The AA said that the way forward on e-tolls was still the subject of consultations between the AA, various organisations, and the Minister of Transport.

It was thus gravely concerned that SANRAL perpetuated misinformation about tolls and discs while the Ministry was yet to pronounce on the matter.

“A resolution to the e-toll issue, specifically that relating to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), was to be given at the end of April last year,” the AA said.

“That was postponed with the end of March this year now being tabled as the date on which an announcement regarding the future of e-tolls will be made,” the AA stated.

The AA said it appeared that SANRAL was attempting to pre-empt any announcement by the Minister on his decision regarding the future of e-tolls, and impose its own regulations on the public, completely ignoring the other process.

According to the Association, research provided by the Ministry of Transport conducted among Gauteng motorists found that “no amount of cajoling or threats of legal action would convince the more than 80% of non-payers to change their minds”.

“The evidence is quite clear and irrefutable: motorists have taken a principled stand against e-tolls, and they simply won’t pay outstanding, current or future fees. They have wholly rejected e-tolls and will not participate in any collection scheme,” the Association said.

The AA repeated its previous calls to SANRAL to adopt a more consultative, approachable stance towards motorists in Gauteng, rather than attempt to bully them into compliance.

“Letters of demand, ultimatums, pronouncements out of turn, and other legal threats such as listing at credit agencies are alienating the public; their actions are arrogant, misguided, and unfortunate, and will not solve any problems,” the Association said.

 

Sanral cancels e-tolls tender

By Roy Cokayne for Moneyweb

The SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) has cancelled the tender it issued in August last year for the continued management of e-tolls and claims it has not been informed of any decision by the government on the future of e-tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

Sanral has also confirmed that it intends to reissue the tender.

Vusi Mona, general manager of communications at Sanral, confirmed on Friday that Sanral’s board had decided to cancel the tender and stressed that Sanral has not been informed of any decision in regard to the future of e-tolls.

“The board’s decision to cancel the tender was informed by a review of the assurance documents from Sanral’s legal and internal audit departments, as well as expert advice provided by the independent advisor to the board’s audit and risk committee.”

The cancellation of the tender, which was in the process of being adjudicated, follows Sanral confirming on March 12 that its contract with Electronic Tolling Collections (ETC) for the management of e-tolls on the GFIP had been extended until December 2020.

One of the reasons cited by Sanral for that extension was to allow for the tender process to be concluded.

ETC’s contract was also extended for three months in December last year, with this extension expiring at the beginning of this month.

Mona said the current ETC contract allowed for an up to 24-month extension.

“In December 2019, Sanral extended the ETC contract for three months to finalise the tender process.

“The Sanral board then took the decision to cancel the tender. Based on this decision, the current ETC contract was extended for a further nine months to allow for completion of the retendering process.

“The tenderers were also informed of the cancellation,” he said.

‘Smoke and ambiguity’

On the weekend, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) CEO Wayne Duvenage described the cancellation of the tender as “lots of smoke, lots of ambiguity and a lack of clarity,” adding that “nothing makes sense”.

He said it seemed that an announcement on the future of e-tolls was imminent last week, before the government’s announcement on Covid-19.

“Obviously with the virus, it has been put off and I think there are more important things to deal with right now.

“So it is again a case of wait-and-see and kicking the can down the road some more, with compliance continuing to drop,” he said.

Paying motorists getting frustrated

Duvenage believes people who are paying their e-tolls are getting frustrated with the fact that only one in five are paying their e-tolls and he called on them to stop paying.

“That will end it sooner [rather] than later,” he said.

Duvenage believes Sanral has scrapped the tender process more out of a decision to wait and see what government is going to do about e-tolls.

“These are all indications that the end is nigh. If the government is going to carry on with e-tolls, Sanral has another nine months to retender.”

The problem is that Sanral cannot enforce compliance anymore, adds Duvenage.

“They have stopped summoning for over a year; the test case is in the balance and by putting that test case on hold, they have effectively done a lot of damage to the strength of their case,” he said.

Moneyweb reported last year that Duvenage claimed Kusa Kokutsha, which submitted a bid of R7.548 billion for the tender, was allegedly only registered as a business days after the tender was first advertised and appeared to have been set up specifically to bid for the Sanral contract.

The other two bidders, according to Outa, were Phambili joint venture (JV) and SAeTO.

It said Phambili JV submitted a bid of R11.399 billion while SAeTO did not list a bid amount.

Duvenage added at the time that the date on which Kusa Kokutsha was registered indicated that it did not have a track record as a business and, through its directors, is linked to outgoing contractor ETC.

“Thus this appears to be ETC in a new guise,” he said.

Douglas Davey, ETC board chair, subsequently confirmed that ETC did not submit a bid for the tender because it is a special purpose vehicle and was therefore established only to manage and operate the Gauteng tolling system.

However, Davey said Kusa Kokutsha, in which TMT Services and Supplies has a 44% shareholding and KapschTrafficCom AG a 5% stake, did submit a bid.

The majority shareholder in Kusa Kokutsha is a staff trust, with a 51% stake in the company.

ETC’s original shareholders were TMT and Austria-based Kapsch TrafficCom AG.

Only part of the tender Sanral issued for an open road tolling system in Gauteng – a national Transaction Clearing House (TCH) and violations processing centre – relates to e-tolls on the GFIP.

The TCH is currently almost exclusively used for clearing e-toll collections for various toll operators and toll plazas but Sanral confirmed that it is in the process of repackaging and expanding the function of its TCH to provide a host of other mobility services, such as vehicle licence renewal payments, cashless parking, fuel payments and to use Sanral’s customer service centres for driving licence renewals.

If the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act, which was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, goes into effect, a trip from Johannesburg to Pretoria will cost consumers without e-tags R1 000.

A R250 fine would be levied against motorists for for every gantry passed without an e-tag present.

Critics have slated this decision as:

  • This legislation could be used to bully non-paying motorists into paying e-tolls
  • Gauteng currently has a 70% non-compliance rate, meaning the burden of billing motorists would be onerous
  • Approximately 1,49-million trips are taken on Gauteng’s tolled roads daily
  • For every R500 fine received under the new Act, motorists will receive a demerit point
  • Non-payment of fines could result in a three-year driving ban
  • This would cause havoc with the country’s economy as people would lose jobs and small businesses may close

Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has a deadline of Saturday 31 August to announce the future of the contentious tolling system.

 

By Penwell Dlamini for Sowetan Live; BusinessTech

Gauteng residents may have to wait for some time before clear word comes through on what should happen to the failed e-tolling system in the province.

Gauteng premier David Makhura tried unsuccessfully to explain to the legislature when the controversial system would be scrapped.

DA provincial leader John Moody asked Makhura when the gantries on Gauteng highways will be switched off and if those who have paid their e-toll bills will be refunded.

In his reply, Makhura said the matter is with national government and the ANC in the province would continue its campaigns for the scrapping of e-tolling.

A recent article in BusinessTech said that in an interview with Talk Radio 702’s Karima Brown, the deputy chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, avoided the question of how Gauteng’s roads will be funded and maintained going forward, instead stating that the province first needs to “let go” of the current system.

The ANC had previously stated that the controversial e-tolling system should be scrapped.

“The e-toll matter has now been referred to national government. The president [Cyril Ramaphosa] was there when we made call that e-tolls in this province …must be scrapped. We made that point at the ANC conference. We did not say the e-tolls are scrapped. [The issue of e-tolls] is at national government, which is now responsible for this matter.

“We as the ANC are going lead a campaign [against e-tolls]. There is no contradiction between the ANC taking up [national government]. There is no contradiction in that. We have been doing that all the time…I will lead the march to the Union Buildings. There is no contradiction in that. It will not be the first march to the Union Buildings. We are going to continue to lead in ensuring that the e-tolls become a matter of yesterday,” Makhura said.

At their recent provincial conference, Gauteng ANC members reiterated their position calling for the scrapping of e-tolls.

But the EFF is rejecting the ANC’s statement, saying the ruling party is raising the issue simply to appease voters.

“It is now going to be elections, you are starting again with this thing of yours with e-tolls. Leave the e-tolls alone. You have failed to scrap it. It is like your mother party [the ANC]; every time we go to elections, they start changing their tone with the land issue…All I am saying is that please do not fool us and try to tell us that you will do something about e-tolls. People of Gauteng must never pay e-tolls and we are not going to pay them,” said EFF MPL Ntobeng Ntobeng.

Makhura could not give any indication when national government would make its final decision on what should be done with e-tolls.

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