Cape Town – The Automobile Association (AA) said that it is disappointed that the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) has decided to go the legal route before resolving their e-toll billing problems.
In an attempt to force Gauteng road users to pay their fees on the controversial tolling system, Sanral appointed a debt-collection agency to manage this process for them, the AA said.
Sanral has been sending an SMS to an undisclosed number of Gauteng road users, which reads: “We have noted your refusal to pay your outstanding e-toll balance. Your vehicle details are being submitted for listing, and legal action will commence with costs incurred. Call 087 353 1490 Ref…:”
READ: Sanral using private debt collectors for e-toll fees - Outa
The SMS and debt collection added “yet another layer to the costs of collection, which are already unnecessarily high,” the AA warned on Wednesday in a statement.
“It is extremely disappointing that Sanral has gone this route without first resolving their billing problems,” said the AA.
“A number of Gauteng drivers have been questioning their bills, but have not received satisfactory replies, if they’ve received any replies at all.
“Many people are also still not receiving invoices or statements, but may have received these text messages, which is unreasonable,” the AA noted.
Sanral will have to follow through
The AA said it is sure Sanral understands that it cannot threaten legal action against motorists unless it intends following through with court action.
“While it is a legal requirement to pay your e-toll account, it remains each driver’s choice to do so or not,” the AA said. “Should Sanral follow through on these threats, it will be left to the driver to defend themselves in court.”
Sanral said reports alleged that road users noticed zero-balances on their e-toll accounts, but have not received any explanations from Sanral.
“Our understanding from ETC, the company responsible for collections, is that these billing inconsistencies apparently relate to the splitting of customer accounts to reflect pre- and post September 2015 accounts,” said the AA.
“We have previously said that we support initiatives to improve roads in all provinces, but funding these improvements through e-tolls is not the answer,” it said.
“The unnecessary administrative costs, which are escalating with this type of approach, place an extra burden on already over-extended motorists.”