E-tolls war of words escalates
A war of words between roads agency Sanral and Justice Project South Africa continued on Tuesday.
JPSA denied a Sanral claim that it had told motorists they could break the law without any consequences.
“They must state where they find any grounds whatsoever to state that the JPSA or I have made any assertions that motorists could break the law without any consequences,” JPSA chairman Howard Dembovsky said in a statement on Tuesday.
He said on Monday that Sanral was misleading the public by saying the failure to pay toll fees was against the law.
Sanral reacted that the non-payment of toll fees was a criminal rather than a traffic offence.
Its spokesman Vusi Mona accused JPSA of showing “an irresponsible and despicable attitude towards the rule of law” in saying motorists could break the law without any consequences.
On Tuesday, Dembovsky described the statement as “venomous and unfounded”.
He said Sanral was avoiding clarifying e-toll laws and procedures.
“We have required clarification of procedures and conflicting laws, and they [Sanral] are clearly avoiding the issue that the laws on which e-tolls are based are unclear and contradictory, and that the ‘mistakes’ add to the public confusion,” said Dembovsky.
These mistakes were differences in the amounts payable in the English and Afrikaans versions of the e-toll tariffs published in the Government Gazette.
The JPSA said both versions, which were signed by the transport department’s acting director-general on 19 November, “have equal, but conflicting weight”, and it called on the department to repeal the notice.
The e-toll system started operating across Gauteng three weeks ago.
The Star newspaper reported on Tuesday that Sanral was planning to introduce an automated system that would ensure that foreign motorists using freeways would pay their e-toll bills before leaving the country.
“We are working with cross-border agency to educate people, especially truck drivers that will go through Gauteng about the e-tags,” Mona told the newspaper.
The Citizen newspaper reported that road users registered for e-tolls had taken to consumer website Hello Peter to complain about Sanral. Sanral had reportedly not responded.
The website allows for feedback from companies providing services.
According to the newspaper, the complaints included incorrect billing, billing not being received, unlawful debits, electronic glitches, e-tags not working and “shocking” charges.
Mona told the newspaper he was on leave, and that readers should direct their complaints to the Sanral customer call centre.
In a statement, trade union federation Cosatu, the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu), said its general secretary Andre Kriel had received an e-toll violation fine notice via SMS.
“The secretary general has today [Tuesday] advised Sanral that he has no intention of paying the fine,” the union said in a statement. “E-tolls are not acceptable to Sactwu and Cosatu, and we will resist it until the end.”
Sanral could not be reached for comment. — Sapa