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The AA voices concern over proposed amendments to AARTO Act

January 2016
Recent proposals to amend sections of the AARTO Act garnered substantial reaction from the public and non-governmental organisations. The proposed amendments will, amongst other things, enable authorities to withhold owner’s vehicle licenses if they have not paid e-tolls.

The Automobile Association (AA) reviewed the proposed amendments and submitted a detailed response to the Department of Transport not only on behalf of our valued Members, but also in the interests of all South Africa’s motorists.

In our response we said that the proposals fall short on a number of points and that, in our opinion, these amendments are nothing more than a smokescreen to force motorists to pay for the e-toll system; a system that is reviled and unsupported in Gauteng.

We noted that the release of the proposals on 7 December 2015, with a response deadline of 6 January 2016, was done deliberately to reduce public participation and called on government to extend the timeframe for the submission of comments by up to two months. With SANRAL as embattled as it is in the public space, we would have thought the roads agency and the Department of Transport would do everything possible to make this process inclusive to prevent further damage to its reputation.

Apart from this, we said that the proposals will move the already cumbersome administration of e-tolls from SANRAL and their associates to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) which administers the AARTO, or Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences. This, we said, will create a situation whereby the administration of e-tolls and traffic infringements would be difficult, if not impossible, to manage.

We also noted that:

With many account holders currently unable to obtain invoices and statements on their e-toll accounts, the implementation of a fine system could mean that vehicle owners will receive a fine before their invoice.  In essence, account holders will be fined for delayed payments through no fault of their own.

  • Owners could incur huge fines that will be hard to query or defend while trying to resolve billing issues with SANRAL and will not be able to renew their vehicle licence until they have paid these fines.
  • The amount fined for an unpaid e-toll debt is disproportionate to the outstanding amount. For instance, should a vehicle owner drive from Soweto to Pretoria and back, they will trigger 16 tolls and incur a debt of R45.90 (calculated using the SANRAL online e-toll calculator). If the owner fails to pay these tolls, they are liable for a hefty fine of R4 000 before discount. 
  • By its own admission, SANRAL acknowledges only ten percent of account holders are paying their e-toll accounts. This means that 90 percent are not, showing the lack of compliance to the system.  We would suggest that SANRAL rather starts issuing invoices and statements to their existing customer base and follow standard debt collection processes and procedures to collect outstanding amounts, rather than effecting new legislation to cover for their own system inefficiencies

In addition, we reiterate our position that the collection of monies for the improvement of South Africa’s road infrastructure network will be best collected through a dedicated allotment in the existing fuel levy and that this money be administered by the National Treasury.

We will keep you posted on the latest developments regarding these proposals as they happen and advise you on how they could affect you, as a South African motorist.


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