eTolls: And now for something good

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Johannesburg - Gauteng's controversial e-tolls could reach the courts yet again. Premier David Makhuru will study a review panel report at the end of November before he decides whether to approach national government to consider an alternative.

CAPE TOWN - Some good news for Gauteng motorists after government announced changes to the controversial e-tolls fees.

Among the changes is a reduction in the monthly cap for light motor vehicles, down to R225 a month.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on Wednesday in parliament, Cape Town.

He told a media briefing that the new changes were a result of lomng term discussion at national and provincial level through treasury, transport department, South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the Gauteng government.

Ramaphosa said cabinet had approved:

~ Public transport (buses and taxis with operating permits ) remains exempted.
~ A single reduced tariff will be applied to all motorists – e.g the current standard tariff of 58cents per km will be reduced to 30 cents per kilometer – almost 50 percent reduction – vehicle class e-tag or no e-tag.
~ Monthly cap reduced – users of light vehicles will not pay more than R225 a month from R450, which are the bulk of users. Revised caps will be introduced to other categories of vehicles.
~ There will be no change for infrequent users who make less than 30 gantry passes in a year – if a user exceeds this in a year then they will be liable to pay usual charges – if less than 30 times you are exempted.
~ Etolls fees currently outstanding will be discounted by 60 percent – users will have six months to settle their debt dating  back to December 2013. There will be monthly cap on the penalty for accounts in arrears – users who do not pay tolls within the required 30 days will be obliged to pay double the toll tariff. To protect users from incurring high amounts of debt this will be capped. In the case of light motor vehicles for example, the monthly cap for accounts in arrears will be R450. Settlement of e-toll fees will be linked to the motor vehicle license renewal. Motorists will need to settle any outstanding e-toll fees before their vehicle license is renewed.

For the full statement, read below:

Statement by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on the New Dispensation for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement P...

 

E-tolls fees

In 2013 Sanral said 90 percent of motorists will pay less than R200 a month on e-tolling, after it had tracked actual usage by 2.5 million vehicles on the Gauteng e-roads.

It added that less than one percent of road users will pay the maximum of R550 per month.

At the time the organization said tariffs had been reduced with the initial proposal for light motor vehicles lowered to 30c/km from 50c/km while trucks and heavy vehicles were R1.50/km from the R2.97 proposal.

Motorcyclists (Class A1) were set to pay 18c/km.

Light vehicles (Class A2) were to get a 15 percent discount for continuing to use the road once the monthly bill reaches R400. The monthly bill would now be capped at R450 -- a lower cap from the previous R550.

The standard tariffs for medium heavy vehicles (Class B) would be capped at R1,750 a month, and for large heavy vehicles (Class C) at R3,500 a month.

In November 2013, Sanral unpacked e-toll rands and cents saying only 17 cents of every rand collected through e-tolling in Gauteng goes towards the cost of managing the operations and collecting tolls.

Eighty-three cents went to costs linked to the road, including servicing the loan incurred in order to complete the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

 

E-tolls battle

In September 2013, President Jacob Zuma signed the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment bill into law, which allowed e-tolling to take place in Gauteng.

This sparked protests against the system led by Cosatu, who called for civil disobedience, and Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) which was involved in a long court case over e-tolls.

The organisation had been fighting the system since 2010 and in April that year the North Gauteng High Court granted Outa an interdict to have a full judicial review before e-tolling could be implemented, effectively preventing Sanral from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of a review.

But the Constitutional Court later set aside the interim order after Sanral and the National Treasury appealed the order.

Out on the streets, protests -- which saw drive-slows on Gauteng highways -- continued.

Then in 2014, Gauteng Premier David Makhura called for a review of the system.

The public, NGOs, the transport department and Sanral made submissions to a review panel which had been specially set up.

In January 2015 the findings were released.

See the full document below:

Report of EToll Panel