However, contrary to this, Wayne Duvenage, Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) Chairman, says he doesn’t think e-tolling will be implemented before next year. He maintains that the process will most likely take a lot longer than what is being estimated, especially in light of the Christmas shut-down period.
“Tolling isn’t like a light switch; you don’t just switch it on and start tolling. It is a process,” he said.
He said that the judgement of the high court hearing on November 26 will probably only be heard in January or February, and if the judgement goes government’s way, they are going to have to get over the next hurdle, which is encouraging public participation.
“There are many tolling systems across the world that have failed due to the very reasons that the system could fail in South Africa: the public does not trust the system or the reason for its implementation.”
Duvenage referred to e-tolling as an “inefficient, illogical tax” and said that it is irrational on the government’s behalf to expect citizens to pay.
He says that the public is wary that the system being implemented was not handled in a transparent manner, and unless the government gets a reasonable level of public participation, a project like this won’t get off the ground.
“The extent of public consultation that has happened over the past year is what should have happened five years ago before government made the decision.”
Duvenage said the gazetted tariffs are no different than those published and subsequently withdrawn earlier this year.
“In April this year, the e-toll tariffs were gazetted at exactly the same rate as are now being proposed. They have not reduced, other than some capping of other categories. We believe they will reduce them a little after this round of public participation, which is all too little, too late. The fact of the matter is the public will have to pay billions of rands (over R1bn per annum) just to collect the tolls. The public are fed up. This is one tax too far and will be rejected by the people.”
OUTA made the statement following the recent announcement that e-tolling will be implemented with “reduced toll” rates.
“Government has also been selective about their claimed support for the user pay principle. While many may agree with the theory of user pay, most reject it in the application of GFIP e- tolling, as it imposes caps on high volume users and exempts others which contradicts a user pay principle.”
OUTA has also rejected the Minister of Transport’s claims that adding to the fuel levy will increase inflation.
“OUTA has consistently said that they are willing to pay for GFIP and other national road projects but reject the excessive and unnecessary costs associated with e-tolling. The national fuel levy is one source of funding which can be used to fund prioritised national road projects. In fact, the various e-toll economic reports commissioned by SANRAL themselves promote the fuel levy and direct transfers from the fiscus as the most cost efficient method of funding infrastructure projects well ahead of e-tolling which comes with massive administrative burdens and costs.”
He says it’s not about OUTA or the public not wanting to pay for the roads. “Nobody minds paying taxes if they are logical and efficient, and if the government is responsible with our tax money. But that’s not the case here. We have an opportunity to speak up as society. People are extremely frustrated, and we must take this opportunity to tell the government how we feel.”
OUTA is encouraging the public to use the opportunity to comment on the Proposed Toll Tariffs (Gazette # 35756) and the Toll Exemptions (Gazette #35755) which have been published in the Government Gazette. A clear message of e-Toll rejection should be e- mailed to Mphahlet@dot.gov.za.
The judicial review of the e-tolls will begin on November 26.