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02 January 2012 at 11:52 - Posted by Anonymous

Toll road outrage grows


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Gauteng drivers, already outraged about sky-high toll road costs, are now seething at roads agency Sanral for deducting money from those who own e-tags.

And more and more are now voicing their intentions to boycott the purchase of e-tags and the upcoming system.

With just under two months until the toll system comes into effect in Gauteng, many of those who rushed to buy e-tags to qualify for discounts have had billing and SMS costs deducted from their accounts.

Customers are being forced to pay R5 for account statements sent to them via post and 20c for each SMS they receive notifying them of their account balances. The deductions are happening without their knowledge or consent. Sanral has kept mum about the deductions.

But now they’re taking to Twitter to express their displeasure.

“Boycott Sanral e-tags,” Gordon Forrester tweeted.

Another user, Kevin Chan Lee, tweeted: “I’d like to now how Sanral will lock the entire Gauteng population up if they all don’t buy e-tags?”

Willem Hechter added: “Not only is Sanral lying about toll road, they are stealing as well. Thank you ANC for again lying to the people of Gauteng!”

Koffi Kouakou asked: “Is Sanral and the SA department of transport misjudging the level of ire of Gauteng citizens toward the higher toll fees? The outrage is mounting!”

Howard Dembovsky from the Justice Project South Africa said his organisation was calling for a complete boycott of e-tolling.

“They are counting on the fact that people are stupid and intimidated by threats. Whether it’s e-tags or notices sent by post, there must be a total, total boycott,” Dembovsky said.

He said there was no legislation in place giving Sanral CEO Nazir Alli and his “bunch of merry henchmen” the right to threaten anybody with prosecution.

The DA has also been calling for a boycott of the e-tags and the scrapping of the tolls entirely.

Jack Bloom, the DA’s Gauteng caucus leader, said on Thursday Sanral had an obligation to disclose all the administration costs of the tolling system.

“Refusing to buy e-tags is a legal consumer protest. This latest costs fiasco confirms the view that the e-tolling system is too expensive and complex to work,” Bloom said.

“These extra costs are another example of Sanral’s high-handed implementation of the controversial tolls. Motorists are entitled to know the full costs of the e-tags and any other hidden costs there may be.”

A Durban businessman in the tolling industry, who does not want to be named for fear of reprisal, has criticised Sanral’s choice of tolling system, saying it was the most expensive in the world.

“Germany is the only country to have used this particular tolling system, and then only because it’s state-subsidised,” said the businessman, who has done extensive research on tolling around the world.

He said the US had thrown out its similar system and opted for a more cost-effective solution.

“Open-road tolling in a developing country is a disaster,” he added.

He said the system, in which those who did not buy e-tags would be billed via their number plates, would not work as there were already problems in developed countries where open-road tolling systems were implemented and motorists falsified their number plates to dupe the system. - The Star

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