Sanral head: E-tolls no big election issue

Although ANC spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu says e-tolling will not be an election campaign issue, the system is still hotly debated. (Reuters)

Although ANC spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu says e-tolling will not be an election campaign issue, the system is still hotly debated. (Reuters)

E-tolling is not a major issue for the ANC ahead of this year's elections, says the South African National Roads Agency Limited's Nazir Alli.

"I don't think it was a major concern, they just wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth so to speak; to hear it from our minister…" he was quoted by Business Day on Thursday.

He was speaking after briefing the ANC's national executive committee on electronic tolling, which came into effect in Gauteng on December 3.

"They wanted to know about the whole e-toll package and we have given them sufficient detail. There is a better understanding of how the system works and an understanding of what the links are if Sanral defaults on any of its programme with other state-owned entities," he said, indicating that other parties' financial welfare is linked with that of Sanral.

ANC communication subcommittee chairperson Lindiwe Zulu declared ahead of the meeting that matters such as e-tolls were not "campaign issues".

The Democratic Alliance however has made the e-tolls a major part of their election campaign. Mmusi Maimane, who is campaigning to be Gauteng premier, vowed to hold a referendum about the controversial system should his party take power in the province in this year's general elections.

Maimane also said the DA would seek an interdict against further e-tolling being rolled out in the province.
He pointed out that interdicts have been successful where the party governs in the Western Cape, pending a review of the system.

'Stupid to lie'
Sanral has denied claims that it lied about the number of e-tags in circulation, Business Day reported on Thursday.

"It would be downright stupid of us to lie about this," Sanral chief executive Nazir Alli was quoted as saying.

Responding to claims by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), he said the auditor general's office would begin its audit of Sanral this month, ahead of the financial year end on March 31. Sanral would have to provide proof of its claim that 936 000 tags were registered, he said.

The agency was willing to correct problems with incorrect billing. People who did not live in Gauteng, had never used a tolled highway, were too young to drive, or, in one reported case, were dead, had received bills.

Alli said so far 1% of problems reported related to incorrect user information, which according to him was low for such a large system.

Failure to comply
Meanwhile, Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said drivers who received an excessive e-toll bill had failed to comply with the time frames stipulated in the enforcement of e-toll violations.

Drivers who did not have an e-tag would not be eligible for the 48% discount and other mark-downs and they would have to pay an additional cost if the fee was not paid within the stipulated seven days. "Failure to comply with this could result in a criminal record," said Mona.

But last month Justice Project SA and Sanral had a tiff about the legality of the Sanral payment system, after JPSA stated that Sanral is misleading the public by saying the failure to pay toll fees is against the law, regardless whether an invoice is issued or not. – Sapa

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