Pretoria – The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is
contractually obliged to bring the Gauteng tolling system into operation unless
its instruction from government should change.
This is according to project leader Alex van Niekerk in the
wake of criticism that the agency is proceeding to distribute e-tags before the
public hearings on the controversial system have concluded.
Various organisations, including the South African Vehicle
Rental and Leasing Association (Savrala), the Automobile Association (AA),
trade union Cosatu, the DA and the VF+ have been dissuading the public from
obtaining the tags – in protest against the system.
According to Van Niekerk the registration process started
off slowly this week, just as do such systems globally. On Monday there were
300 registrations. It's not known how many tags have been sold to date.
Van Niekerk said that even if most road users decide not to
buy the e- tag, the system will not collapse in a heap.
“The operating cost will be higher, but that is the reason
for the higher toll frees for vehicles without an e-tag.
Van Niekerk said the e-tag would protect motorists from
cloned number plates because the tag links the owner’s car to his account.
Without the tag the motorist is exposed to the possibility
that another vehicle, with a cloned number plate, could result in toll fees
landing on his account.
The e-tags will help the authorities to identify criminals
and facilitate prosecution.
Van Niekerk confirms that the amendments to the laws that
are required to implement toll fees in terms of the Administrative Adjudication
of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) will not be finalised by February.
But this does not mean that Sanral’s hands are tied if
people fail to pay their tolls.
As matters currently stand, this already constitutes a
legislative offence and offenders can be prosecuted in terms of the Criminal
Van Niekerk says the public is under the misapprehension
that toll roads will cost them thousands each month.
Research has shown that 78% of users of the roads in
question will have to pay less than R400 a month.
Average consumers however drive less than 25km a day on the
network concerned, said Van Niekerk.
He added that the benefits offered by the improved roads is
“If one spends an hour less on the roads morning and
evening, over a 20-workday month this amounts to 40 hours, which is equal to a
full working week.”
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