To read up on SANRAL's draft regulations in detail, download the full document below.
While the Automobile Association avails itself of the opportunity to comment on the proposed regulations, it is contrary to our belief that tolling of the GFIP should in fact occur at all. We stand by our position that funding through the fuel levy is still the cheapest option for the road user and will impact the general consumer less in terms of increased living expenses, than tolling will.
In placing the Automobile Association’s comments to the SANRAL Act draft regulations on record, we firstly object to the short time made available for public comment especially during a holiday period. The normally acceptable notice period for public comment on South African legislation is 30 days whereas comment on these proposed regulations has been limited to just 20 days – including the Easter public holidays and school break.
In view of the above, the AA is concerned that limited public participation and comment to these regulations will follow. A hallmark of the limited consultative process government has followed from the outset with respect to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Plan, and more specifically, the urban tolling issue, continues with these regulations it seems.
We submit further that the period for comment be reviewed and extended to the normal 30 days and that broader communication be made to the public.
The AA questions the need for a dedicated traffic police force committed to SANRAL. What benefit would the taxpayer derive from them? Surely the provincial and municipal traffic police are more than competent to fulfil the requirements of traffic law enforcement on all South African roads, including those routes under SANRAL jurisdiction? Constituting a new traffic police force just for the benefit of SANRAL could be construed as the establishment of a private army for the sole purpose of toll enforcement. It is our understanding that the National Traffic Force was brought into being at the behest of the Minister of Transport to strengthen road safety initiatives such as the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, not for the primary use of enforcing regulations as per the SANRAL Act.
It is also our view that the proposed regulations to the SANRAL Act will serve no other purpose other than to fragment traffic legislation. These regulations should sit within the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 which is the repository of traffic legislation, policy and standards in South Africa. It was never the intention of the lawmakers when they formulated the SANRAL Act that it should include an element of law enforcement and traffic regulation.
Clause 2 (6)
‘Partial uniform’ is unacceptable - authorised employees should be in full uniform when on duty and when interacting with the public.
‘Name tag’ – It is not acceptable that the only form of identification required for an authorized employee is a name tag. This regulation easily makes provision for unauthorised persons to abuse the use of such name tag or to fraudulently pose as an authorised SANRAL employee. More stringent methods of identification must be laid down if authorised employees will be given powers of law enforcement. The regulations must make it compulsory for any person acting under the authorisation of SANRAL to wear an identification card on which is printed a photo, the full names and the employee number of the relevant employee, as well as the SANRAL insignia.
There is no legal requirement for a person to acquire a tag. The decision to buy a tag or not is a constitutional right of the consumer and therefore any reference to a “tag” must be deleted. The inference that the consumer would be required to have a tag is misleading.
Clause 3(b), (c) and (i)
The authority to impound or confiscate - This regulation directly impacts on a person’s constitutional right of privacy and not to have their possessions seized. Giving an employee the power to impound or confiscate is aligned with the power to seize an article belonging to an individual. Currently the Criminal Procedure Act provides that an article may only be seized by virtue of a search warrant that has been issued by a magistrate, justice, judge or judicial official. The only circumstances under which an article may be seized from a person without his/her consent and without a search warrant is if an authorised person on reasonable grounds believes that a search warrant will be issued to him/her and that the delay in obtaining a warrant would defeat the object of the search. The proposed regulation does not provide any exceptions of this sort and is constitutionally questionable.
The issuing of a ‘receipt’ – in light of the severe consequences of the above actions, it is absolutely unacceptable that a mere receipt be issued to a motorist. The minimum requirement in this regard should be that a legal document fully describing the item and the circumstances under which it was seized be issued to a motorist. The document should be substantial enough to allow a motorist to use it in any dispute relating to the confiscation of his/her article.
This regulation again has constitutional right implications in that it infringes on the right to privacy and not to have one’s property searched (which would include a vehicle). It is an absolute invasion to widely authorise SANRAL employees to enter a private vehicle with a view to inspect it for the purpose of toll collection. At the very outset there does not appear to be a reasonable link between the entering and inspection of a private vehicle and the collection of toll fees, how does the search of a vehicle enforce the collection of toll fees?
The preceding clause to this provision states that ‘An employee appointed in terms of regulation 2(2)(a) may, subject to the Act or any other law-‘ ……..
This regulation is very concerning as it gives an employee the discretion as to what shall happen to any item that has been seized. Items which are suspected to be invalid, which have been or appear to be put to unlawful use or which are unlawfully altered or defaced, or which have evidentiary value MUST be dealt with in a prescribed manner. Therefore giving an employee the option to deliver it to a police officer is contrary to the object of these regulations.
There are two issues which need clarification in this regulation. What would make an employee suspect that there are outstanding tolls or other surcharges, fees, fines or penalties? Proof of this would need to exist firstly, and secondly such proof would need to be furnished to the driver of the vehicle in printed form. There needs to be a clear definition of what constitutes a “surcharge”, a “fee” and a “penalty” in respect of the Act.
This regulation is a direct infringement of a person’s constitutional right to freedom of movement, especially in light of the fact that a motorist may very well dispute the payment of tolls or other amounts to SANRAL. The provision of this clause in its entirety is therefore objected to.
All of the proposed regulations contained in Clause 3 can be seen to be an unjustifiable limitation of basic human rights in light of the fact that the Act gives SANRAL the right to institute legal proceedings to recover outstanding toll moneys in Section 30. The enforcement and collection of toll fees should therefore be left to the operation of the civil laws and should not include the bestowing of powers and authority that are specifically provided for in the criminal laws of South Africa.
This regulation is too vague and an opportunity exists for it to be abused. Surely the intention of this regulation is to ensure the safety of road users and to prevent obstructions turning into road crashes. Vehicles causing obstruction should as a matter of course be moved off the road to the closest point from where the obstruction occurred to ensure free flow of traffic.
Reference to a “Government facility” must be applicable only to ‘abandoned vehicles’ as interpreted by the National Road Traffic Act. Such “government facility” must be a storage facility with appropriate security.
The AA is concerned that vehicle owners may be charged exorbitant storage and towing fees by contractors appointed by SANRAL, and suitable consumer protection policies must be made public in this regard. The regulation should provide that the owner of such vehicle shall be liable for all ‘reasonable’ and ‘necessary’ costs associated with the provisions hereof. The provision as is unfairly prejudices a vehicle owner in that he/she could be liable to cover excessive and unnecessary costs charged by parties whom the employee has arranged and contracted with.
Further, this prescriptive approach denies the consumer rights of choice, destination and cost of towing / storage.
Further, the AA is concerned that no mention of oversight procedures is made where conflict of interest exists, or potentially exists.
For more information, please contact: