Sanral spokesman “out of touch with reality” over e-tolls

In the latest salvo between the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) and the roads agency SANRAL‚ OUTA has accused SANRAL spokesman Vusi Mona of “being out of touch with his own organisation’s reality”.

Responding to a statement by Mona debunking OUTA figures‚ OUTA chairman Wayne Duvenhage stated on Thursday that the numbers in question were provided by SANRAL’s own collection agency‚ the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC).

Duvenhage quoted Mark Ridgeway‚ the COO of ETC‚ as saying recently that “a total of R5.9 billion in e-tolls was outstanding at the 60 percent discounted rate in terms of the new dispensation… with 81% of this debt being held by 17% or 518‚000 account holders [freeway users]”.

“Extrapolated‚ this means that there are 3‚047‚000 of the ‘3.34 million freeway account holders’ who have not paid‚ according to Mr Ridgway’s statement.

“These are not OUTA’s figures‚ they are ETC’s‚” Duvenhage stated.

“Yet Mr. Mona claims that they have ‘1.2 million registered e-toll users of whom about 500 000 belong to fleets and 80 000 to government vehicles’.

“So while Mr Mona’s smoke and mirror talk tries to hide behind statistics of vehicles registered on SANRAL’s system‚ the collection figures tell the real story and indicate a substantial abandonment of the scheme‚ even by previously registered users.

“Mr Ridgeway’s information concurs with OUTA’s research‚ whilst Mr Mona’s ongoing inflated and misleading claims remain at odds with reality‚” Duvenhage asserted.

As regarded Mona’s claim that six courts had upheld e-tolls as being legitimate‚ this was not correct‚ as no court had found on the legitimacy of e-tolls‚ Duvenhage added.

“However‚ a court has found that the GFIP toll roads were not legitimately proclaimed because SANRAL did not provide all the information to place the Minister of Transport in a position to make an informed decision (HMKL 3 Investments vs SANRAL 2011).

“The courts also found that the N4 toll road to Mpumalanga was not proclaimed in a lawful way (State vs. Smit‚ 2006).

“In other words‚ the courts have found‚ at least twice (three times if you include Western Cape Winelands toll saga) that SANRAL operates outside the very laws it wishes citizens to uphold‚” Duvenhage added.

He said it was clear that the e-toll scheme had officially failed‚ following Mona’s “admission that less than 1% of the outstanding e-toll debt has been collected (R40 million of R5.9 billion) in the first and most critical month of the six months dispensation”.

“This is like inviting 100 people to your party and only one person arrives‚ making it a bigger failure than the most pessimistic projections could have anticipated.” Duvenage stated.

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Sanral spokesman “out of touch with reality” over e-tolls