Thys de Beer, administrator of a Benoni company called Banrep, is a man with a problem. An R80,000 a month e-tolls problem.
Banrep assists people who are blacklisted and can’t get vehicle finance, to obtain vehicles. The company buys the vehicle and registers it on its own name and the client rents the vehicle from it until his/her affairs are in order and they can take transfer.
Currently there are 800 vehicles registered on Banrep’s name. Some of them have been in the client’s possession for three to four years and they are spread all over the country.
There are also a significant number of clients who are in arrears and have to be traced before any resolution can be reached on the account and with regard to the vehicle.
De Beer says Banrep has notified all clients that they have to register their vehicles for e-tolls, but most have not responded.
On Sunday night an SMS was sent to the owner of Banrep, saying the company owes R20 000 in e-toll bills, but no detailed statement was supplied.
De Beer would need such a statement, firstly to verify whether the tolls were indeed incurred by their vehicles and secondly to be able to collect the money from the relevant clients.
He phoned the e-toll call centre, only to be told that the account has been handed over to the violation centre and he should speak to them. The call centre agent tried to put him through to the violation centre, but one has to select various options and according to De Beer, those don’t work.
“I don’t know what to do,” he says. On the one hand he feels Sanral must take Banrep to court and the matter should be settled there, but on the other hand he is prepared to do the collection, “If only I can get the detailed statement.”
It will be a monumental administrative burden.
He says in future all new vehicles will be registered for e-tolls and R450, the maximum monthly cost for registered e-tag users, will be added to clients’ monthly payments.
That will however put Banrep at a disadvantage compared with competitors outside of Gauteng who don’t have to add this charge.
Further he has no control over clients’ behaviour and if they remove the e-tag from the vehicle, he is back to an open-ended exposure, because there is no cap on e-tolls for motorists who don’t use e-tags.
E-tolls seem to pose a significant threat to Banrep’s whole business model.
De Beer says it seems the R20,000 e-toll debt was incurred in only one week. That means after a month Banrep will owe R80,000 – an unaffordable amount.
Moneyweb approached Sanral and requested advice on how Banrep, and other companies in the same boat should approach this situation.
A Sanral official and various officials from Meropa Communications, that assists in Sanral’s “press office” promised a response.
After two days the following statement was received from Meropa: “It is very difficult for the press office to respond to road user enquiries as the relevant information is only available through our e-toll system which we (press office) do not access to. Kindly redirect the query to the Call Centre.”
Meropa further requested Moneyweb to quote Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona, who was unavailable earlier and with whom we had no direct interaction.
De Beer now has to phone the call centre again, who will refer him to the violation centre again . . . and so the story goes.
In the meantime Banrep’s outstanding e-tolls are escalating without them being able to do a thing about it.
What a Christmas present!