Opposition for Urban Tolling chairman Wayne Duvenage has strongly criticised the new e-toll dispensation announced by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Ramaphosa announced a single tariff of 30c/km for light vehicles with or without e-tags, considerable lower monthly caps and a 60% discount on outstanding e-toll debt that will have to be paid over six months. He further announced that vehicle owners with outstanding e-toll payments won’t be issued with new licences.
Duvenage called the new dispensation a farce and tweeted the following on Wednesday afternoon:
New e-Toll dispensation is tantamount to putting lipstick on a pig. People will not be seduced or coerced. Scheme still grossly irrational
— Wayne Duvenage (@wayneduv) May 20, 2015
He said government had not really lowered the e-toll tariffs. It had merely done away with the punitive tariff that road users did not pay anyway. He said the 30c/km is exactly what e-tag users would have paid before. People were not prepared to pay it until now and he cannot see that they will be prepared to pay it in future.
Duvenage said the reduction of the monthly cap for light motor vehicles, from R450/month to R225, only applies to a small percentage of road users – less than 10% in fact.
He said road users “will not fall for the carrot” of 60% discount on outstanding toll fees.
Duvenage said the authorities have not addressed several issues that make the e-toll scheme unjustifiable, including that the “expensive contract with ETC” (the company operating the e-toll system) that stays in place. He said by lowering the tariffs, the collection cost of e-tolls is increased to an unacceptable level.
“While the government may think they have resolved their enforcement of the unjust system by linking the payment of e-tolls to the renewal of vehicle licences, they have overlooked the many other unintended consequences that will arise out of this decision,” Duvenage said.
He says this may lead to “a whole new illegal licence discs and number plate industry in South Africa” and people will just drive without licences. He says there is bound to be a legal challenge against the blocking of licences.
Duvenhage is further sceptical about the possibility of enforcing e-tolls through the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto), because the pilot projects in Johannesburg and Pretoria where the Act was implemented exposed several problems that have not been effectively addressed.
“The citizens of South Africa are being taken for fools and the compliance levels will never grow to the 90% levels required by the system in order to succeed,” Duvenage said.
He called Ramaphosa’s announcement “merely a compromise between national and provincial authorities” that does not express the view and wishes of the people of Gauteng.
He said a 10c per litre increase in the fuel levy in 2007 would have covered the cost of the improvement of the Gauteng freeways and would have resulted in the capital cost of the project being settled by now.