In a letter responding to the DA the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, confirms that she has left very little time for public submissions on the proposed amendments to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Regulations for e-tolls.
We are concerned that the Minister has made this information public too close to the extended deadline. Instead of announcing the extension in order to allow for more objections, Minister Peters and her department have not bothered to make the extension known to the public which raises concerns about her intentions.
Furthermore, the Minister has informed me of this extension only this week, with her letter being signed on 24 January 2016, that is a full 18 days into the new extension. The new extension date is now 5 February 2016 which is next week, leaving no time for members of the public to submit their objections.
With such extensions come public notices and advertising advising of the extension. None of this has been done. This is clearly a clever ploy to have on record that the Minister granted this extension. In addition, Minister Peters will claim that despite this extension few, if any, additional submissions were made. The same dirty tricks previously used, continue to be used by the Minister.
Just like the original extension period, although the letter of the law has been followed here, the spirit thereof has not. To make matters worse, this currently remains the biggest secret that the Department of Transport wants to keep so that it receives no comments as it hopes to ram through their preferred amendments after the deadline.
This is an unacceptable state of affairs. We will thus be making a second submission as an addendum to our original submission expressing our views on this matter.
The DA will not rest until government listens to the objections of the public, who remain powerless to the bullying tactics of Minister Peters’ and her department.
10% compliance rate should see e-tolls scrapped
The presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Transport, OUTA (Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance) confirmed what the DA have long held: That e-tolls should be scrapped with immediate effect. Compliance rates, according to OUTA Chairman, Wayne Duvenage, peaked at 40% and are now estimated at a meagre 10%.
As it stands the collection of e-tolls is administratively burdensome and expensive as opposed to e-toll payments funded through the fuel levy which is easy and costs nothing to collect.
Not only is the collection of e-tolls expensive but the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) are failing to collect even a third of the money they had projected, meaning they are incurring massive losses.
Moreover, very little, if anything, is being invested into alternatives to e-tolling, such as improving and broadening the public transport network or moving more freight onto rail, which would benefit more people commuting in Gauteng.
While the DA does not negate the benefits of e-toll technologies, this project has been plagued with problems since its inception, from poor public participation to SANRAL missing 3 of its own launch dates they themselves had set.
All these issues combined with continued arrogance of SANRAL against the public is a recipe that ensures minimal compliance and support for this system.
The opposition to e-Tolling is no longer about our roads but about our democracy and how the public is treated and consulted by its government.
The DA believes that the public will continue to oppose e-tolling, even if legislation is introduced forcing drivers to pay their e-toll bills, as motorists will rather drive with expired vehicle licenses than pay for this unjust system.
The government must face reality, cut their losses and scrap e-tolls once and for all.