Toll Crisis : Toll tariffs are affordable, says Sanral

Pretoria - The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) on Wednesday insisted that the open road tolling tariffs to be introduced on Gauteng's freeways are affordable.

Addressing the media this week on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and the Open Road Tolling Systems (ORT), Sanral boss, Nazir Alli said : "We've tried to making the tolling system tariffs to be more affordable, that is why we are also offering discounts."

The announcement of the tariffs recently was met with heated debate from the taxi industry, labour, opposition parties, the business sector as well as the general public who make use of the freeway network.

Alli said these tariffs had already being gazetted. "As Sanral we are only the implementation arm of government policy," he said, adding however, that their door was still open for further engagement on the matter.

Light vehicle drivers will be charged 66 cents for every kilometre travelled on the provincial freeways, motorcycles will pay 40 cents per kilometre while taxis will pay half the amount. A commuter who travels 63 kilometres from the south of Johannesburg to Centurion along the N1, undertaking 22 trips in one month, will need to pay an amount of R472.18 for the month.

The open road tolling system will consist of 49 electronically operated toll gantries distributed on sections of the N1, N3, N12 and R21 freeways between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The system allows for tolls to be automatically charged without vehicles stopping or slowing down. When the vehicle enters the toll area, the electronic equipment will photograph the front and rear number plate, read the e-tag on the vehicle, verify the tag if is linked to the specific vehicle and have an account linked to it.

Alli said non-payment of toll fees would result in the levying of fines as well as prosecution in terms of applicable legislation. However, non-payers will be granted a seven day grace period and thereafter invoiced for outstanding tolls if no registration takes place within the grace period.

"A debt collection process will be implemented and we just want to warn all those who might attempt to drive vehicles without number plates along the highways that they will be stopped by law enforcers," he said.

Obtaining an e-tag and registering an e-toll account will take place at the e-toll customer service website; at an e-toll customer service kiosk located at malls or at an e-toll customer services centre situated along the freeway network. Account registration will commence in April.

Those motorists who already hold a Bakwena e-tag for use of the N1 and N4 in Pretoria will not need a new e-tag as they will work on the Gauteng e-toll system once the system is operational. However, they will need to re-register their account details with Sanral.

Newly registered Gauteng e-toll account holders will be unable to make use of Bakwena's e-tag lanes.

Regarding the payment method, road users will have the option to link their e-toll account directly to their credit card.

According to Alli, there will be live testing of the ORT system in April later this year, while the tolling system will be operational from 23 June.

"Sanral will announce the opening of registration in the media. All details with regard to the e-toll registration points, including a list of the retail outlets where e-tags can be obtained, will be communicated to the road users," he said.

Meanwhile, the Sanral boss also announced that plans are on the pipeline to transform all the country's booth toll plazas, where individuals collect cash from motorists, into an electronic tolling system.

"The people currently working to collect cash from motorists will not lose their jobs because those who will win the tender will employ them," he said.

Nthambeleni Gabara

- BuaNews