The Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) has been challenging South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) inside and outside of court since the introduction of the tolling system in Johannesburg.
“Legally, if [motorists] use the roads, they will have to pay. The question is how they choose to pay. They can either go the route that Sanral would prefer, and that is registering and buying an e-tag. Or they can try to opt for the slower route of being what is called an alternate user, where you can use the roads and then wait for a bill to arrive,” Lesiba Mudau Transport managing consultant, Paul Browning.
President Jacob Zuma’s signing of the bill before the Supreme Court of Appeal’s final ruling on the matter added a further spanner into the works for Outa.
Since their proposed introductions, motorists have vowed not to buy the e-tags in support of Outa and in defiance of urban tolling.
“In the extreme, incitement not to pay is an incitement to break the law. However, an encouragement to take the legally permissible but somewhat torturous route and most costly, time-consuming route, that is more time-consuming for Sanral, that in itself is not an offence,” Browning explained.
“In the end, one would have to pay, and if one did not, they would be either civil or criminal proceedings.”
The progress of the e-tolling process will depend on how many people will continue to oppose it once urban tolling begins. If large numbers of people continue to stick together, the system could struggle to cope.
Sanral has however offered a discount on the e-tolling, but it is yet to subdue the severe opposition.
“It does seem reasonable to say that the expensive gantries and electronic system and so on is almost certainly more expensive to administer than would be, for example, a fuel levy. One also has to say that although Sanral has not made any particular point of this, e-tolling introduces a pricing mechanism to regulate supply and demand,” said Browning.
“For example, in the tariffs, slight discounts for travelling outside the peak, and if you travel in the middle of the night, there’s a 25 per cent discount. A fuel levy can’t’ introduce that kind of price mechanism.”