Court paves the way to collect e-toll debt
THE South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) welcomed the high court judgment in Pretoria this week for the non-payment of e-tolls.
“The agency has a duty in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Treasury Regulations, to collect all monies due to it. It’s an obligation we take seriously,” SANRAL communications manager Vusi Mona said.
Mona said the judgment sets a precedent in that motorists and companies who do not pay their e-toll debt can be taken to court. It also means that the proof of the default submitted by SANRAL was accepted by the court.
“We are confident that the default judgment in our favour will be persuasive for other courts when deciding subsequent cases. In a rules-based society where courts are the final arbiters, the judgment moves us forward on this matter,” said Mona.
He said there are misconceptions about e-tolls being prohibitively expensive.
“The truth is 78% of registered light motor vehicles in Gauteng pay less than R100 a month to travel on the e-tolled highways and of these 44% have regular e-toll bills below R25. This is the modest contribution we are asking road users to make in order to pay for and maintain these high-order roads.”
He said there simply weren’t sufficient funds available in the annual national budget to pay for these, pointing out there are urgent and competing demands on the budget, such as improved health care, education and social security payments.
This made it “necessary and unavoidable” to selectively use tolling as a funding mechanism, he said.
Mona encouraged motorists and companies to pay their debts as this would contribute to future road upgrades. It was not only “the right thing to do” but there will be consequences if they do not – as the high court judgement has underlined.
The court had ordered an Alberton-based building supply company to pay its outstanding debt of some R450 000.
“The Gauteng highway network accommodates 1.49-million vehicles or 1.7-million people per day. It is important to note that 1.3-million vehicles have an e-tag account in good standing”, said Mona. Just more than 1.4-million vehicles are tagged.
There are about 2.9-million accounts with arrears balances, but of these 1.2-million owe less than R500 each.
“We encourage vehicle owners to register for e-tags and to settle their bills regularly through the many payment options that are available. And we are thankful to the road users who are paying,” Mona said.