On Wednesday 20 May 2015, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa made an announcement with respect to the “new dispensation for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project” wherein a number of specific changes to the e-tolling policy “as approved by Cabinet” were announced.
Almost a month later, on Wednesday 17 June, two notices signed by the Director General of Transport and SANRAL’s CEO were published in government gazette 38884 under notice numbers 524 and 525 respectively.
e-toll tariffs applicable from 2 July 2015
Notice number 524 refers to new e-toll tariffs to come into effect from 2 July 2015 and the tariff of approximately 30c per kilometre is to continue to apply to registered e-tag users but is to be extended to registered VLN users who were previously expected to pay approximately 58c per kilometre.
Both types of registered users still have to sign SANRAL’s 2012 terms and conditions which have been publicly stated as being “90% compliant with the Consumer Protection Act” (meaning that they are 100% non-compliant) on registering with SANRAL and both categories of registered user must be prepaid users or have a payment method acceptable to SANRAL linked to their SANRAL e-toll account in order to qualify for this rate.
If these registered users don’t have a prepaid account with a sufficient positive balance to cover the transaction, or don’t have a payment method acceptable to SANRAL linked to their SANRAL e-toll account will be charged the “alternate user tariff”, and will have 31 days to pay the “alternate user tariff” which is now THREE TIMES higher than the registered user tariff – approximately 90c per kilometre.
Registered users will however be extended a 31 day “grace period” from time of passing under a gantry in which to pay the “alternate user tariff” without an invoice being generated or 30 days from invoice to pay at a “discounted” rate equivalent to the tariff they would ordinarily pay.
“Unregistered alternate users” however will still have only 7 days “grace period” to pay and are NOT similarly entitled to the so-called “discount”, nor are they entitled to the so-called “capped amount” hailed to be so helpful to the budgets of South Africans. If unregistered alternate users pay within the 7 days “grace period”, they will be charged the “standard tariff” of approximately 30c per kilometre. If however they don’t pay within the 7 days “grace period” but do pay before an invoice is issued by SANRAL or within 30 days of the date of the invoice they will receive a 60% discount on the alternate user tariff, making the tariff they must pay approximately 54c per kilometre.
Two gantries, namely “Inkovu (N4-1)” and “Penguin (N4-1)” have been deleted from the list of gantries, reducing the total list from 49 to 47 gantries.
Discount on previously incurred e-tolls
A discount of 60% will indeed be applicable on previously incurred e-tolls and for a specific period at some time in the future, however this will NOT be applicable until such time as the Director General publishes a notice giving effect to it.
Therefore, no-one is currently entitled to this settlement discount despite it appearing in this notice and having been announced almost a month ago.
Conditions for payment of e-tolls
Notice number 525 refers to SANRAL’s conditions of where to pay and what payment methods they will accept.
“Day passes” are still a firm feature
It is notable that the so-called “day pass” remains a feature of the e-tolling system. There is no mention in either notice of the “30 free gantry passes” for out of Towner’s referenced by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa when this “new dispensation” was announced. If such a feature existed, it would or should have been included in the notice number 524 tariff gazette. It’s not.
JPSA’s comments on the overall “new dispensation”
Sadly, Justice Project South Africa is not in the least bit surprised by the fact that the PR exercise announcing the so-called “new e-tolls dispensation” and what has been published in the government gazette notices in question, particularly in the tariff gazette, whilst sort-of resembling one another, don’t actually match one another.
Road users have once again been misled with respect to the tariff they will be expected to pay – with the repeatedly stated rate of 30c per kilometre again being used to mislead them. The fact is that those who are not registered with or choose not to register with SANRAL and waive the protections afforded to them by the Consumer Protection Act in the process will be expected to pay almost double the tariff if they don’t pay within 7 days, and three times that tariff if they don’t pay within 30 days from invoice.
The fact still remains that a considerably high proportion of daily GFIP road users are not and most likely will not easily become registered with SANRAL. Furthermore, the e-tolls system has not, even by a long stretch of the imagination, been uncomplicated by even a small degree as recommended by Premier David Makhura’s “e-tolls review panel” and the collection methods remain expensive, cumbersome and burdensome to everyone. SANRAL is still trying to economically blackmail road users into registering with them and the interests of SANRAL’s business partners, Kapsch and ETC have continued to be firmly protected so they may continue to profit from unregistered road users.
This tariff gazette unfortunately but as expected further exposes the smoke and mirrors methodology of public announcements made in the past, and now by the latest messenger of e-tolling propaganda, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
JPSA further points out that it must be remembered that these two notices do not and cannot deal with the threats of withholding licence discs on the basis of outstanding e-tolls. Such amendments to the e-road regulations under the SANRAL Act MUST be published for public comment and JPSA will use the opportunity to argue against that preposterous idea as and when the opportunity arises.
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)