South Africa’s Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) has said comments made by Inge Mulder, chief financial officer (CFO) at the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), regarding its cash flow position undermine parliamentary accountability.

HumanIPO reported this week minister of transport Dipup Peters had said less than ten per cent of e-tolling bills had been paid, with over ZAR540 million (US$51 million) still outstanding.

However, Mulder said the agency was not experiencing cash-flow problems and the situation was a “misunderstanding”.

OUTA chairperson Wayne Duvenage criticised Mulder’s comments.

“Her attempt to rationalise minister Peters factual answers to a parliamentary question concerning actual revenues collected from e-toll payment defaulters undermines parliamentary accountability,” he said.

Duvenage said while Peters appears to be aware she is accountable to her oath of office, Mulder’s attempt to explain possible “misunderstandings” where there are none fails to inspire confidence, especially with regards to SANRAL investors.

OUTA said it has been warning SANRAL against employing its “hook, crook and spook” methods to intimidate road users since e-tolling was implemented in December last year, saying they would backfire.

“They most certainly have [backfired],” said Duvenage. “E-tag penetration has been dismal, with the vast majority of Gauteng freeway users opting to take their chances as ‘alternate users’, and hold SANRAL accountable to normal business practice.”

OUTA said Peter’s announcement has served to “dispel the smoke and reverse the mirrors” surrounding e-toll revenues.

“We remind [Nazir] Alli [SANRAL chief executive officer] that on 28 February 2014, he claimed that e-toll revenues had “surpass[ed] the target of ZAR200 million per month”. It was patently obvious he was using a highly creative form of financial accounting,” said Duvenage.

He said both All and SANRAL spokesperson Vusi Mona had been “much quieter” than they previously had been since the cash-flow announcement.

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