Neil Campbell, MPL

DA Gauteng Transport Spokesman

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is alarmed at the underhanded manner in which the National Minister of Transport, S’bu Ndbele, and the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) has introduced a new punitive tariff for non-registered users.

In a Government Gazette Volume 562 no.35263 issued on Friday 13 April 2012 the concept of a so-called ‘alternate user’ is introduced for the first time. This alternate user would be someone not registered with SANRAL and either wilfully or inadvertently used a Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) toll road.

SANRAL previously set a R0.58 per kilometre rate (the standard rate without an e-tag) and a R0.30 per kilometre rate for registered e-tag users (the discount rate). Now “alternate user” will pay a R1.75 punitive rate which is nearly six times higher than the discounted rate. This new rate has been introduced without ever having been discussed with any affected body or the public.

There have been numerous opportunities to introduce the issue at petition hearings, steering committee meetings, affected party meetings and most recently at the National Consumer Commission (NCC) hearing last week but SANRAL has, with absolute disregard for the public, never mentioned this punitive tariff. In fact it indicated to the NCC that it would be amending its terms and conditions to be more in line with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

The absolute arrogance and lack of transparent processes shown by SANRAL to the public throughout the whole toll introduction is abhorrent. Strangely the Gazette does not classify minibus taxis or public transport busses specifically and, as the law stands presently, these so-called public transport vehicles must therefore be classified in one of the paying categories of users. There is currently no legislation which supports their previously announced toll-free status.

It is obvious that SANRAL has underestimated the public opposition to urban tolling and reacted with its usual knee-jerk ineptitude that has characterised this whole process. As usual public consultation was never considered.

SANRAL has to be running scared to resort to such underhanded tactics and is now facing unprecedented consumer protest by people refusing register their vehicles. I call on National Consumer Commissioner Mamadupe Mahlala to thoroughly investigate this outrageous new penalty tariff.

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