Opposition to urban tolling alliance (Outa) believes that further “relaxed conditions” relating to the payment of e-tolls is further evidence that the system is “destined for the scrap heap of history”.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Tuesday (15 July) announced a “reprieve” for the users of Gauteng’s toll roads.
Opening debate in Parliament on her department’s budget, she told MPs this was being done “to make it easier for people to comply” with e-tolls.
The concessions included a “further extension of the payment period to avoid the VPC process that would negatively affect vehicle owners”.
Peters said users would “have an extended payment period of 51 days, from the day they pass through the gantry, as opposed to the [current] seven days”.
“We believe that this announcement serves two purposes, one being another carrot to entice the public buy-in to the ill-conceived scheme,” said Outa Chairperson, Wayne Duvenage.
“Secondly, we believe the prosecuting authorities have noted an extreme difficulty exists in trying to achieve successful prosecution under the current regulations, terms and conditions,” he said.
Duvenage raised the point that if Sanral must provide the user with an invoice with payment then expected within seven days to qualify for certain benefits, how does one, especially businesses, pay within seven days, without an invoice?
“The Minister’s ‘reprieve’ is in fact further evidence that the system is fundamentally ill-conceived, unworkable and destined for the scrap heap of history.”
Outa again called on Government to halt the scheme and assess why the ‘un-
roadworthy e-toll vehicle’ was ever allowed on the road in the first place. “This is precisely what Premier Makhura’s panel aims to do,” Duvenage said.
He said that Government will not regain the willing support of the people on this issue, until such time as proper consultation on the matter is taken.
“It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for one organ of state to pursue criminal prosecution over unpaid e-toll bills while another organ of state is inviting public engagement to examine the impact that e-tolls is having on the productivity of the region, the social well-being of its people, and the implications for the environment,” said joint Outa spokesperson, John Clarke.
Gauteng premier, David Makhura, recently announced a 10-member e-tolls review panel to focus on the impact of system on the economy.
The panel will have its first meeting on Thursday (17 July 2014)
Prosecution processes in place
Meanwhile, Manny de Freitas, DA shadow minister of transport, said he will submit questions to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, and Dipuo Peters, to determine the full extent of the NPA’s assignment of two prosecutors to investigate whether the conduct of some motorists constitute an offence.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it has assigned prosecutors to begin the process of charging people who have not paid their e-tolls.
“We will also specifically inquire into whether Sanral unilaterally requested this involvement.”
“The DA is concerned by this latest development, specifically given the changing context of the e-tolling debate,” de Freitas said.
The DA has also made clear that it will seek to amend the national legislation in Parliament.
This article was first published on BusinessTech.