E-tolling to be reviewed?
Friday, June 27, delivered some wonderful news for the raging e-toll saga as Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, announced that a panel will be established to review e-tolling on the province’s freeways … The Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) states: “This could possibly be the first real platform for dialogue on the matter. JPSA welcomes the announcement.”
The Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) shares this sentiment. “While its members complied with the December 3 implementation of e-tolling last year, the industry has had to spend millions to integrate the necessary e-toll and e-tag systems so that its customers could be billed,” notes the Association.
Notwithstanding these investments, and ongoing daily e-toll administrative costs, SAVRALA states that it would welcome an opportunity to participate on an e-toll panel, as proposed by Makhura.
JPSA, however, cautions that this is not the first time that such a panel has been established … “the last time this was done through the inter-ministerial committee, absolutely no notice was taken of any inputs civil society tried to make,” notes the organisation.
“We also point out that there has been no announcement as to when this panel will be established and/or how long it will take for it to find the ‘lasting solutions’ that it purports to be seeking,” states JPSA.
In the meantime, the non-profit organisation points out, there is a looming matter that will cause irreparable harm to persons who have not and/or cannot pay e-tolls … “the so-called ‘discount extension’, announced in Government Gazette 37637 of May 12, 2014, came to an end on Monday, June 30”.
It has been mooted that, once it has come to an end, the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) will embark on prosecutions of “offenders” through the National Prosecuting Authority. Makhura is on record as saying: “If you don’t pay your e-tolls, you don’t have my sympathy.” This does not instil confidence.
Howard Dembovsky, national chairman of JPSA, adds: “In our view, unless a serious and decisive intervention takes place now, the Sanral runaway train will continue to head on a collision course with citizens, while the panel fiddles about being established and seeking solutions.”
He continues: “Again we see a situation developing where the question of ‘unscrambling an egg’ will arise after harm has been done – and overturning criminal convictions certainly cannot be described as an easy thing to do, if, indeed, the courts see fit to convict people accused by Sanral.”