E-tolling received a troubled reception when it went live on South Africa’s Gauteng e-roads on 3rd December.
The South African National Road Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) system of high definition cameras had been installed and running as a trial for the previous 18 months, with some million registered e-tag users.
But there have been mass protests and widespread reports of billing errors, queuing and problems with the website.
The high definition cameras on the Gauteng e-roads are said to routinely register vehicles incorrectly and to mis-read vehicle types.
And Howard Dembovsky, head of the Justice Project South Africa alleges that the problems with the system are intentional.
‘There is an enormous time wastage that is being purposefully caused by SANRAL to coerce people into saving themselves time and money by registering for e-tags,’ he said.
‘The functionality of their website is practically useless to anybody who is not a registered user.’
The Congress of South African Trade Unions issued a statement saying that it: ‘reaffirms its continued total opposition to this attempt to privatise our public roads and force us to pay to travel on roads we have already paid for through taxes and the fuel levy.
‘The federation urges all motorists to continue to refuse to buy e-tags, which they have absolutely no legal obligation to buy.’
But Transport Minister Ms Dipuo Peters said: ‘SANRAL should be allowed to start collecting toll fees to begin to repay the debt incurred when the roads were upgraded.
‘We cannot afford to continue to expose SANRAL’s portfolio to any further financial risks, having suffered two downgrades by international credit rating institutions.’
SANRAL manages a road network of some 18-thousand kilometres, 3,126 of which is tolled.