The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) has said 1.2 million toll road users in Gauteng province have now registered their vehicles for e-tags, urging remaining motorists to do the same.
“We would like to thank all Gauteng motorists who have responded positively to our call to register their vehicles for e-tolling,” said Vusi Mona, spokesperson for SANRAL.
“We appreciate what they have done and would like to urge other motorists to follow suit in order to enjoy the discounts associated with having an e-tag.”
SANRAL also thanked those motorists who are paying for their use of “e-roads” despite not being tagged, with Mona saying the agency hopes these motorists will soon register for an e-tag to benefit from the 48 per cent discount, among other benefits.
According to the agency, monies collected through the e-tolling initiative will be used for road maintenance, as well as repaying debts incurred by SANRAL during the construction phase of the roads.
SANRAL said the introduction of e-tolling has brought about a reduction in traffic and travelling times of road users, with the Freeway Management System (FMS) in place on toll roads informing road users of accidents, to enable them to plan alternative routes or be prepared for delays.
“We have ensured that the e-tolling system is complemented by our on-road services,” said Mona.
“These include the SANRAL branded cars on the highways to ensure that if there is an incident or any form of disturbance on the road they respond quickly. This quick response time ensures that there are no longer prolonged traffic jams on the e-roads as a result of an incident. The services also include quick medical response in the event of an accident on the e-roads.”
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) responded today, calling the claim that 1.2 million road users have registered for e-tags “hogwash”, and saying these latest figures are a further example of SANRAL’s “deliberate misinformation” about e-tag sales.
“The real question is why does SANRAL not allow an independent journalist or auditor to simply take a look at their computer screen, in their operations centre, where this information is readily available?” said John Clarke, spokesperson for OUTA.
“What we would like to know the exact percentage of e-tagged vehicles passing under the GFIP gantries (excluding the Bakwena concession), in total, by day and month to date for February.
“For all we know, Sanral’s numbers include tags sitting on shop shelves, storerooms and elsewhere, but they are of no use if not fitted to vehicles travelling on the Gauteng freeways.”
HumanIPO reported SANRAL said in mid-February 66 per cent of Gauteng road users have registered for e-tags.
The statement directly contradicts claims by the OUTA 71 per cent of toll road users had not registered for e-tags, putting compliance at 29 per cent, according to OUTA’s own research.
Today, SANRAL responded to OUTA’s claims, saying the agency does not know how “credible” OUTA’s own study is.
“We don’t know who conducts their research or sampling and how credible their study is. Our figures, which like any aspect of our business, we report to parliament such as we did last week, are not based on sampling but on counting actual registered users. Also, ours are subject to being audited by the auditor general. We don’t know who audits OUTA’s,” said Mona.
SANRAL has admitted it has received numerous complaints regarding billing, with consumers claiming the wrong amounts have been billed, as well as reports of non-road users being sent bills.
Opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) revealed in January it had received over 300 such complaints in a week and would be taking up the matter with the National Consumer Commission; with President Jacob Zuma also saying the mistakes in billing are “unacceptable” and must be fixed.
SANRAL said the matter of wrongful billing as highlighted by the president was receiving the agency’s “full attention”.
Transport minister Dipuo Peters has also told SANRAL her instructions are “clear and unambiguous” over the fact it must sort out billing immediately.
“We believe that in spite of the billing challenges emanating from largely unregistered users and the customer service issues at some of our service outlets and call centre, the system is working and motorists are cooperating with us as evidenced in the 30 000 to 45 000 registrations we are seeing per week,” Mona said today, adding the agency is still working to figure out the “teething problems”.
Meanwhile, members of parliament (MPs) have also been affected by the billing mishaps, with Ruth Bhengu, chairperson for the National Assembly portfolio committee on transport telling the City Press she had received complaints from numerous MPs who received e-tolling bills over the Christmas period, when MPs cars were unused and locked up at parliament in Cape Town – where e-tolling is not applicable.
Bhengu said these mistaken bills suggest number plate falsification is taking place.
“E-tolling assisted us to identify that there is a cloning of number plates in South Africa and there are also false number plates,” she told City Press.
“We did come up with a solution to that. We are looking at a situation where people will produce number plates that will have to be accredited.
“We are looking at the system in Malawi where nobody can come to a counter, produce the licence disc of a car and ask for a number plate. You have to go through a special process where you verify that you are the owner of that car and no other car has that registration.”
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