Government is currently deliberating the future of e-tolls

But again, there’s no certainty as to when cabinet will ‘give direction’ on the matter.
No clarity yet on whether motorists who fail to pay their e-toll accounts will be fined R1 000 for each offence. Image: Shutterstock

The government is currently deliberating the future of e-tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

These deliberations are taking place amid confusion and uncertainty about the validity of claims that motorists who do not pay their e-toll accounts will be fined R1 000 for each offence in terms of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Amendment Act.

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Ayanda-Allie Paine, spokesperson for Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, said on Thursday she did not want to comment on a Democratic Alliance (DA) statement about e-tolls.

“It [e-tolls] is a matter that is before cabinet and there are deliberations about it as we speak. So nothing is concrete, nothing is settled on, everybody is holding on until we hear from cabinet. I think that is all that we will like to say because anything that we add on to that will make it seem as if things have been concluded and things are ready to be represented and that is not the case. We are waiting for cabinet to give direction on the e-tolls,” she said.

Paine added there is “no indication at the moment” when cabinet will make an announcement about the future of e-tolls.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu gave the assurance in March 2020 that e-tolls would be discussed by cabinet, following a promise made in December 2019 that a decision on the future of e-tolls would be taken in the first cabinet meeting in 2020.

Cabinet has already met several times this year.

Mthembu did not comment at the time on why cabinet had not taken a decision yet.

The SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) in September reissued the tender for the continued management of e-tolls, which it cancelled in March, despite the continuing uncertainty that exists over the future of e-tolls on the GFIP and e-toll compliance rates declining further to below 19%.

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for roads and transport Fred Nel this week called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to decide on the future of e-tolls as a matter of urgency before the Aarto Amendment Act takes effect in July 2021.

The Aarto Bill was signed into law in August 2019. Although a commencement date for the Act has not been officially promulgated, it was intended to come into effect nationally by mid-2020, but its implementation was delayed by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Concerns of R500 fines last year

Nel said the DA last year raised concerns that the (owners of) operator class motor vehicles, who do not pay e-tolls will be fined R500 and stand to lose one demerit point for every fine that is not paid.

He said this has subsequently been changed, and while motorists will not receive demerit points, a fine will still be incurred, which is now double at R1 000 for failing to pay e-tolls.

Nel added that a fine can be issued for disobeying a traffic sign each time a motorist passes an e-toll gantry and fails to pay their e-tolls.

“The Act is just another way to force motorists to pay for e-tolls. What is clear is that residents are not prepared to pay for e-tolls.

“We cannot have a situation where motorists are fined for something which they were not consulted on in the first place,” he said.

Read: ‘Now is the time for government to announce the end of e-tolls’

Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) CEO Wayne Duvenage said Outa is going to court to halt and review the implementation of Aarto.

Advocate Stefanie Fick, head of the accountability division at Outa, said Outa’s application attacks the constitutionality of the Aarto Act and the separation of powers between national and local government.

Fick said the application was lodged in July and is being opposed by the Department of Transport and Road Traffic Infringement Agency.

She said the application is only likely to be heard next year.

Fick said e-tolls are not mentioned in Outa’s constitutional challenge of the Aarto Act because e-tolls are not mentioned in this Act but rather in the regulations to the Act.

She said the regulations to the Aarto Amendment Act are now open for comment and Outa will be going through them with a fine-tooth comb.

Fick stressed that these regulations will not come into effect if the Act does not come into effect.

She added that there may be an opportunity to attack the regulations as they relate to e-tolls and other issues in the future.

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The only thing which the ANC can do is talk, talk and talk. However, implementation and execution is not within their abilities. And there is certainly no shortage of examples to prove this point.

Wrong jnrb !
The ANC is excellent in implementing theft , corruption and general chaos.
Give them their due.

You have more chance of your medicine cabinet giving direction than this lot !!

Failure to pay toll has had charge codes in the AARTO Regulations since 2008. This is not news, although the DA seems to regard it as such for political ends.

However, as before, any attempt to charge motorists under S27 of the SANRAL Act or the AARTO charge codes related to non-payment of toll / use of e-roads relative to GFIP would immediately precipitate a defence on the basis that the roads aren’t actually toll roads because of the unlawful manner of their implementation.

This would force SANRAL to defend the declarations of the roads as toll roads in court. However, SANRAL has been avoiding doing exactly that for nearly seven years. Given the quality of the legal minds at SANRAL’s disposal, its propensity for litigation, and its repeated threats aimed at non-paying motorists, one might ask why.

The obvious answer is that they know the declarations are insecure and liable to be set aside, just like happened on the N4 and the Winelands Project.

Interesting comments from Sanral where it states “…e-toll compliance rates declining further to below 19%.”

This implies a fifth pay & carry the rest of the 80% free riders.

But we’re used to that by now….take income tax for example: 20% carries the 80% free loaders, or better PC worded, the ‘benefactors’ and yes…am aware…20% likely earns 80% of the country’s income.

The 80/20-principle in many countries. Mass poverty or free-riding not unique to the SA landscape. Or a company’s top 20% of its sales-force brings in 80% of the commission/sales.

Really? Free loaders? It’s a fair assumption that, if you can afford a car, you pay personal income tax. You also pay huge amounts of tax every time you fill up. What does a taxpayer get for the Scandinavian amounts of tax he pays in SA? Not much. He still needs to pay for private security, health care and education. So to make the statement that the 80% are free-riders or free loaders, is just plain dumb.

Agree Incitatus: you’ve EXACTLY proved my point by explaining how free-loading works (by complaining how heavy you’re burdened with tax…being the 20% of us)

Take note:was referring to the SA landscape….so free-loading is part of SA’s political and socio make-up.

Yes, Saffas pays through their neck…the minority, wealthier. And the rest??

80/20 – Pareto principle

3.5 million tax payers from an approximate 60 million population is around 5.8%
– quite far from the 20% you mention?

Good point. Worse than I thought.

There’s nothing so hard to stop as a trend. And the trend in etolls is clearly ‘not to pay’. 81% are no longer paying. The reason is that the introduction of etolls was fraught with allegations of corruption, including with companies involved in the disgusting Armsgate scandal. The ANC thought etolls would be a cash cow. Instead it has become a rabid dog back to bite them on the bum. No wonder they kick the can down the road. Like most areas in government, they just don’t know what to do.

Cabinet dont need to ‘give direction’, the people have, I and many others AINT PAYING – end of.

Freeways should be as free as water, electricity, housing, schooling, data, university and soon : the income grant. Free-dom!

End of comments.

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