A democracy is a government by the people and when the people are not being led, but they are being forced, then there are many questions about the democratic government that need to be soliciting and retorting. The e-Toll system is an electronic tolling system that does not require motorists to stop in order for them to be billed, just as an ordinary toll booth. This system is being imposed on to the motorists of Gauteng and is being masked as a method of raising funds for the development of Gauteng roads and ultimately, South African roads. The imposing of this system is totally out of the scope of a democracy; it is a huge waste of tax payers’ money and should be totally abolished by the South African government.
Several e-tolls are found on various highways in Gauteng and how they work is once you drive under them, it scans your e-tag and license plates (at the front and back), takes an aerial view of your car, measures the size of it (in order to know how much to bill you), finds who’s registered to the vehicle and then they are billed electronically. As fancy as it sounds, vehicle users in Gauteng are on the brink of daylight robbery with the new e-toll system that is about to be imposed on them by SANRAL (South African Road Agency Ltd.), and if nothing is done, the country will find itself being dragged by the neck in a so-called democracy.
The first issue that comes into play with the e-toll system is the financial issue of e-tolls. SANRAL accumulated a debt in excess of 20 billion rands over the past few years with the renovations of the Gauteng highways. The government believes that this debt can be covered over several years by implementing the user-pay principle which is simply: road users paying to be on the roads. Two issues sprout from this. The first, OUTA has done some calculations on the total cost of repaying the debt over those 20 years and instead of the 20 billion rand owed, you find that with the e-toll, Gauteng motorists will be paying, an excess of 75 billion rands. The government is yet to explain why they are charging users a whole lot more than what they need to be repaying. This is a huge waste of tax payers’ money as there are already fuel levies being paid to help aid the construction of South African roads. The second, Austrian company Kapsch, will be collecting a total of 665 million rand annually for the next 8 years, giving a feeling of private
investors prospering rather than the benefit of the people.
Government argues that this large income of money from e-Tolls will benefit the working and the poor class because they will not have to pay and they get the assurance of safer roads without having to pay. This all seems well but what government forgot to mention is the fact that with the increase in road usage, there will definitely be an increase in the cost of living. Trucking companies that deliver the cheap goods to local supermarket will increase their price of operation which will increase the price of goods which will surely impact their pockets. This does not just limit itself to the delivery of goods. E-tolls do not have as many benefits as first anticipated because the money spent is for the roads and you find that public transport in South Africa is still in a shocking state and many users will still get in vehicles that are not road-worthy and that will not benefit them even if the roads are better.
South African, especially Gauteng, road users already have a big issue with the payment of traffic fines. The e-toll system will find that people will fail to pay their bills as in the case of Portugal. A country as developed as Portugal had a total of 19% of users failing to pay their fees and that saw more than a double-increase in the costs of administration in the short space of a year. South Africa, as a developing country, will have themselves a large handful of people who will not pay for their fees. The government will have themselves too much to deal with and will put the burden on the shoulders of the road users again and the cycle will not end.