The South African National Road Agency (Sanral) and the Johannesburg Metro Police are set to announce a designated e-toll enforcement agency to target individuals with unpaid e-toll accounts over a certain cap.
This is the first significant effort by Sanral to force compliance, as fewer than 25% of Gauteng’s commuters are currently paying their e-toll accounts.
A metro officer who spoke to Moneyweb on condition of anonymity, confirmed the plans for the ‘E-toll Hawks’, which will give metro police the power to arrest motorists with unpaid e-toll accounts in excess of R20 000.
To facilitate this enforcement, Metro officers will be issued with handheld automatic number plate recognition devices that will be able to electronically ‘read’ vehicle number plates and then display outstanding amounts.
The Metro officers will then issue a summons to car owners to appear in two soon-to-be-established e-toll courts in Braamfontein and Pretoria, which will exclusively deal with e-toll cases.
Metro officers will have the power to arrest motorists who ignore these summonses, and to confiscate vehicles until the debts are paid.
Where company cars, heavy vehicles and trucks are concerned, the transport head of the company will be held personally liable for arrear e-toll accounts over the cap.
The officer also confirmed that Metro officers may receive a commission on the recovery of unpaid e-tolls.
Sanral did not want to confirm or deny the establishment of the unit.
The news comes on the back of the City of Cape Town disclosing the cost of proposed tolls in the region, where motorists can expect to pay 84c/km on the N1 and N2 toll roads.
Last year the roads agency was taking steps to prosecute e-toll defaulters. Sanral got clarity from the National Prosecuting Authority about the evidence it had to supply to enable prosecution.
Sanral’s finances took a knock last year due to the e-toll system. In the year ended March 31, with only four months of e-tolls included, Sanral showed a loss of R2.7 billion in its toll potfolio, after R3.5 billion of finance charges.
It is estimated that more than 40 000 motorists have outstanding e-toll accounts in excess of R20 000.
A formal announcement is expected on 1 April.
Just kidding: happy April fools!