According to the road agency, which is responsible for the management and maintenance of the e-tolls system, those who are concerned about the possible impact of e-tolling on their finances should register for an e-tag.
“This is one of the main reasons Sanral has employed a pro-active drive to encourage South Africans to register and thereby pay the lowest toll fees since November 2011,” the South African National Road Agency’s (Sanral) head of communications, Vusi Mona, said in a statement.
“While Sanral sympathises and accepts that tolls add to the consumer’s burden, registering for an e-tag means that the road user pays approximately 5.6 times less than what they would if they were not registered and did not pay within the seven day grace period.”
The e-tolls system, which was implemented on Gauteng’s highways on 3 December 2013, has seen opposition from a number of organisations, including the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), among others.
AfriForum, a non-profit organisation aimed at protecting the rights of minorities in South Africa and a well-known opposer of the e-tolls system, have said that the administrative burden of e-tolls on consumers is disproportionate.
“It was said that somebody needs to pay. We believe there is a responsibility to pay but at least motorists have the right to do it in [the] most cost-effective manner, and that is a fuel levy. We have, in Gauteng, 20 per cent of the population paying 50 per cent of the tax in the country. There is a lot of redistribution of monies from Gauteng to other areas in the country and the principle can be that this can be part of a fuel levy,” AfriForum chief executive, Kallie Kriel, told CNBC Africa.
“If they say they have a million people that bought e-tags, it means there’s 1.5 million that didn’t buy these e-tags so this system won’t be workable and that is now being exaggerated by the administrative costs. The problems that we see, it’s going to take a lot of money to sort out these problems, money that is not being used for roads, money that is being used for administrative costs and that is something that we simply don’t need.”
Earlier this week, Debt Rescue, debt counsellors formally introduced by South Africa’s National Credit Act, said that there had been an increase in the number of consumers seeking help in the form of debt review subsequent to the introduction of toll fees.
“The responsible thing for any debt counsellor to do is to advise consumers seeking debt review to register for e-toll. Encouraging them not to pay e-tolls within the required time does exactly the opposite as it will lead to the loss of built-in discounts,” Mona said.
“These organisations call on members of the public not to register for e-toll but then simply put up their hands when the public receive invoices which have not been discounted. Registering for an e-tag, while not a legal prerequisite, makes sense if road users wish to qualify for discounted e-toll rates. It is the most frugal thing to do other than using public transport and limiting their use of the Gauteng road network.”