Government corruption to blame for non-payment of e-tolls

The number one reason for the boycott, according to motorists.
Many believe they are already overtaxed and that government should lessen the burden by managing its finances better. Photographer: Michel Bega

More than 52% of motorists believe there is nothing government can do to convince them to start paying their e-tolls on Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) roads, according to research conducted by the Automobile Association (AA).

Government corruption is the dominant reason for this view, with 78% of motorists citing government corruption as the reason for deciding not to pay their e-tolls.

Read: Head of e-tolls company was an e-tolls boycotter

Further reasons provided by respondents include the fact that no alternative routes were created and they were forced to use e-toll roads (52%), no safe and affordable public transport exists (46%), they did not feel their commute had been improved (45%) and e-toll costs were too high (34%).

Respondents who claimed they could not afford the additional costs of e-tolls said they were already overtaxed and paying other fees and taxes to provide for road improvements.

Tolls shouldn’t be necessary

The association quoted the response of one respondent who said: “We are already taxed to breaking point. If our tax money is managed and spent properly, it will not be necessary to have e-tolls.”

The AA released the research report last week together its second open letter to Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, who President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed to head a task team that must report to him by the end of this month on the options on the table with regard to e-tolls.

Mbalula said last month he was seeking a “win-win”” solution for government and society to the GFIP e-toll saga and questioned “how do we meet each other halfway in this?”

The AA said in its first open letter to Mbalula last month the only fair and sensible approach to e-tolls was to immediately suspend e-tolling in Gauteng and reimburse consumers who have paid e-tolls since 2013.

Read: Scrapping e-tolls a viable solution – AA

The association said a ring-fenced e-toll levy linked to the General Fuel Levy (GFL) was the only equitable and viable means of funding the GFIP.

“Our research indicates people will not pay under the current conditions. It also shows that debt is not a factor in people’s decisions.

“Most users are not paying because of a principled position taken years ago and no amount of cajoling or enticement will change their minds,” the AA says.

In its second open letter, the AA highlighted that the findings of the research were clear and unambiguous: the current model for the GFIP has failed and will continue to fail if pursued.

The association stressed this was not the view of the AA but the view of those who were being asked to pay for the e-tolls system.

Almost 80% of the people in the AA research sample indicated they used e-toll roads in Gauteng and 51.64% did not agree at all with the statement that “if we want a road transport infrastructure that works, we need to pay our tolls”.

The statement added: “The government remains committed to the user-pays principle because it is the most efficient and effective way to ensure that the direct benefits of services are paid for by those who use them.”

Of those respondents who indicated they paid their e-tolls, 28% said they were registered e-toll users and had a tag, while 11% said they paid their e-toll accounts but did not have a tag.

Why some still pay

The major reasons provided for paying e-tolls were that the motorist felt the cost was worth the improvements to their commute (26%), felt it was their civic duty to pay (21%), were afraid of the legal consequences of non-payment (17%) and wanted to avoid prosecution (14%).

Close to 12% indicated that they used to pay their e-toll accounts but no longer do, while 38% said they had never paid their e-tolls accounts.

The AA again urged Mbalula and his colleagues deliberating the future of e-tolls to consider as the only way forward the immediate suspension of e-tolling in Gauteng; the immediate reimbursement of monies collected to those few who have paid to date; the introduction of a levy linked to the General Fuel Levy which is ring-fenced for e-tolls; and the immediate cessation of harassment by the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) of motorists who remained committed to not paying under the current model.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) reported last week that it planned to challenge the constitutionality of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Act and expressed concern that the new act could be used to force Gauteng motorists to pay e-tolls.

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As someone who pays E tolls I will say again. When the government wants you money they will TAKE IT !!!!

Correct, if they want your money, they will take it. But why would you want to make it easy for them to rob you?

They will take it because of cowards like you who roll over like a scared puppy and sustain silly systems.

Grow a spine.

Tax is supposed to pay for public goods (goods that all citizens can make use of). Classic examples are road infrastructure, water infrastructure, street lights etc..

When the bulk of taxes are used to pay the bloated salaries of public “servants” (I say “servant” with heavy sarcasm), and to sponsor welfare programmes (i.e. baby creation), it is no surprise that there is little left for it’s original purpose.

That is why we must now introduce new taxes, and try come up with reasons such as “user pays”.. This “user” has already paid, multiple times over. Different rules for different folks. What about “User Pays” for health services as well then? (NHI, looking at you).

Welcome to SA; where wastage, corruption, cowardice and dishonesty are the order of the day for our governing party (and some others – I won’t mention names, but they’re generally bedecked in red). Not that they would care – honest citizens’ opinions count for little when you’re a “revolutionary”- i.e. have the mentality of a child.

Firstly “user pays” is a joke since taxis and buses are not paying. Expect a massive blowback if the taxi industry is forced to pay etolls.

Secondly, the deal between SANRAL and the Austrian pirates was corrupt from the start. Someone in the ANC got a kick back.

If you are paying etolls you are a chump.

E-Toll system is indeed necessary: it allows for corruption to flourish.

In exactly the same sense that NHI will be necessary.

(The more the upper end of society is taxed….the more they will vote with their feet! I understand that Qantas’s outgoing flights are rather full.)

Flights may be full, but people who emigrate quickly lose their boldness, and meekly pay etolls in their new countries.

The difference is that in the countries people are emigrating to, they receive something in exchange for their taxes. Such as working services, police, medical systems, roads etc. Whereas in SA the taxpayer is viewed as a cash cow to be squeezed dry. Etolls is the straw that is going to break the camel’s back.

E toll is a tax on people who believe in the competence of government. People who believe that the government is incompetent, know that there will no consequences if they do not pay.

The collapse of the E tolls system proves that the majority of users believe that the government is incompetent. What does it say about the trust in the competency of government when the entire Soweto does not pay for electricity, and when there is this huge nationwide escalation in the number of residents who do not pay rates and taxes?

The refusal to pay E tolls is the general public showing the middle finger to Luthuli House.

There’s no need to stretch for reasons such as corruption when refusing to pay e-tolls.

Just start at the basics: the system was planned unlawfully, built unlawfully and is being operated unlawfully. If that were false, SANRAL would already have criminally prosecuted at least ONE of the billions of unpaid gantry passes under S27 of the SANRAL Act.

But they haven’t, and since they have the best legal advisors which taxpayers’ money can buy, the only conclusion is that they don’t have confidence the courts will find in their favour.

Absolutely agree. I am so done paying around 65/70% (PAYE, VAT and other taxes) of every Rand I earn to have it squandered and used to fund lavish ANC excess and looting. If it was actually going to schools, roads, hospitals it would be tough but I would suck it up. This country has no appreciation of the taxpayer footing 80% of the value creation and tax revenues…time to look elsewhere for a country that does appreciate it.

I totally disagree! I wouldn’t pay even if I lived in a first world country and our government was the most uncorrupted. I hate the system because it is too damn expensive and totally unnecessary, not because it was implemented by our corrupt government. It’s blatant theft not to mention the ridiculous charges each month, how is one expected to pays these outrages amounts each month?!

“felt it was their civic duty to pay (21%)”.

If this number goes up significantly, South Africa will survive. If it drops, then that’s the end of the country. These souls are the last bulwark of civilisation in South Africa.

“Civic duty” is when one supports government’s lawful aims and conduct. There is no duty on citizens to support unlawfulness.

The real civic duty is sending a message to our government that they must never, ever do this to us again.

It’s so simple, really. The e-tolls were a blatantly corrupt action by the ANC to feather their nests. And they thought that they could bully the small man into paying. This clearly, obviously hasn’t worked. People almost without exception have seen through the deceit and some 75% are NOT paying. With organisations like OUTA, the small man now has a big, strong legal team to bully the bullies. So it’s a standoff. The ANC is like a big ox lying down at the side of the road. Poke it with a stick, it just grunts. But let off a firecracker behind it and it jumps. It’s time for that firecracker to be lit now. Anyone who has an etag, chuck it in the nearest lake. The ANC must now clearly see that they need to ringfence portion of the exorbitant taxes we pay on fuel to pay for road improvement. That’s always the way it should have been, instead of now paying a proven corrupt overseas company massive amounts every month. (Note: the company in question WAS found to be corrupt by overseas courts). Default on the damn loan now. Grow some cojones, ANC, and see the daylight. ETOLLS ARE NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GOING TO WORK. Get that in your heads.

End of comments.

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