The e-toll scheme collapsed over 12 months ago

In response to the Mail and Guardian’s announcement on 11 October 2015, that the e-Toll scheme was on the brink of collapse, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) has always indicated that the scheme’s ability to survive in the medium term as an efficient ‘user-pays’ scheme, was always questionable.

12/10/2015 11:38:51

The e-toll scheme collapsed over 12 months ago

In 2012, OUTA presented the Inter Ministerial Committee with numerous reasons why the scheme would fail, not least of all was its unenforceability due to its many inaccuracies and erroneous data feed from the national e-Natis vehicle license system. The e-toll scheme was originally planned to rely on enforcement through the introduction of AARTO, which itself was another failed scheme that is eight years behind its original launch date of 2007. Finally, the scheme’s high administration costs and irrationality, made it extremely unpopular and without the willing public compliance at over 80 %, schemes of this nature around the world have generally collapsed or never even launched. SANRAL have never been able to muster even half the public to come on board, their maximum compliance achieved being around 45% by mid 2014, and that has now reduced to around 25%.

However, OUTA believes it is too easy for the ANC leadership to now finger out SANRAL’s CEO, Mr Nazir Alli, as their scape-goat. While he may indeed have been the architect and driver of the scheme, OUTA believes it was the Minister of Transport in 2008, Jeff Radebe, who signed the scheme into existence, but did so without thorough independent questioning and verification of the research and numbers put forward by SANRAL at the time.

“Our government’s Ministers and Director Generals are far too hasty in their acceptance of major capital expenditure projects, and do not go to the required lengths to double check the claims, data and research presented to them,” says Wayne Duvenage, the Chairman of OUTA. “This is why we sit with the many costly capital expenditure debacles in Eskom, PRASA, SAA and other inefficient State Owned Entities of today, with SANRAL, a once respected organization, now joining their ranks.”

The same will also be said of the planned nuclear energy deal, if this country allows this farce to forge ahead unchallenged. Furthermore, the proposed Carbon Tax planned for introduction in 2016 has numerous flaws, high costs and other unintended consequences for society, if left unchallenged.

SANRAL’s own e-toll revenue and projections graph below, displays their revised projection after the July 2014 compliance decline set in, following Minister Dipuo Peters confirmation in Parliament that no summonses or prosecutions against e-toll defaulters would take place. This announcement, combined with Premier Makhura’s e-toll impact assessment announcement was the final blow for the scheme.

OUTA would like to remind the public that it was SANRAL who stated in court in 2012, that the e-toll scheme would achieve compliance levels of 93%, along with an average monthly revenue of R260 million. With the failed scheme nearing two years of age, SANRAL is about to announce a final push with the introduction of their 60% discounted dispensation, in attempt to hoodwink the public to come on board. “We believe the new dispensation is a desperate folly that will not achieve the success levels required. At best they may get compliance back to June 2014 levels, but this will still be a significant failure and almost R2 billlion per annum shortfall of their required numbers to settle the bonds,” says Duvenage.

OUTA maintains that the fuel levy, has increased significantly to R55bn per annum, and the exorbitant Government induced increases to the fuel levy since the GFIP construction began in 2008, could finance the equivalent of three extra freeway upgrade projects in cash, every year. “Thus, for SANRAL and Treasury to pooh-pooh the fuel levy as a viable alternative to finance urban freeway infrastructure, is disingenuous and is certainly indicative of a government who desires to make the cost of living for its citizens far more expensive than it ought to be,” says Duvenage.

OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.