20 September 2013:
The AA’s view on the upcoming eToll court hearing
Next week should see a final decision being made on eTolling in Gauteng when the Supreme Court hears the matter on 25 and 26 September.
Considering that this issue has been delayed for several years due to on going legal proceedings and continual deferrals by SANRAL, the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) looks forward to the outcome of the trial, which will provide much needed clarity on the way forward for Gauteng’s proposed eTolling system.
Although there is no question around the need for adequate road funding for the maintenance and upgrade of deteriorating road infrastructure in South Africa – or the benefits derived from good roads in terms of safety and wear-and-tear on vehicles – the AA does not agree with SANRAL’s proposed method of payment for the GFIP infrastructure upgrades, nor the proposed costly fee collection method.
The AA cannot support the notion of urban tolling, the direct negative financial effect it has on motorists, nor the indirect effect on consumers as toll fees will result in higher prices for goods and services. Although users do need to pay for the use and upkeep of roads, they are not obliged to pay for a costly administrative system, gantries and associated technology, e-tag outlets, advertising campaigns to encourage e-tag sales, and additional law enforcement to ensure compliance by the public whose co-operation and support for the eTolls project has been lost. All this is in the absence of adequate alternate routes or reliable public transport for motorists to turn to.
The AA views tolling as an absolute last resort for road funding and is of the view that there should be an immediate return to a dedicated road fund that is ring-fenced and sourced from fuel taxes.