E-toll day-pass shock for Gauteng's visitors
South African motorists visiting Gauteng during the coming festive season are in for a hard time.
If they plan to use any of the e-toll highways, they had better budget for more than just petrol and accommodation.
Roads agency Sanral says visitors must register for an e-tag either by calling a toll-free number or visiting its website. It gets worse.
If they choose not to have an e-tag, they can register for an e-toll account by using their vehicle licence plate, or they can buy a day pass.
Visitor day passes will be sold at retailers, including Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Spar. Retail outlets are likely to become the first stop in Gauteng for travellers without internet access.
A day pass will be activated when a vehicle passes through the first gantry and it can then pass through as many gantries on a Gauteng e-road as needed in a 24-hour period.
For a category A1 vehicle (a motorbike), a day pass will cost R30, for a sedan R50, small heavy-motor vehicles R125 and trucks R250.
People outside Gauteng can buy the day pass online and, when they enter the province, go to a Sanral outlet to fetch it. Outlets will be on national roads in Gauteng.
The news that visitors as well as residents will have to pay has angered trade unions.
"This will make us even more determined to keep up the fight against e-tolling," said Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven.
"We've always said that this is not just an issue for Gauteng . Thousands of South Africans from other provinces are going to be feeling the effects.
"It is unbelievable. It shows that they have no confidence that they will get the money from the people and they are actually trying to bully them," Craven said.
On October 9, the civic rights group Outa (Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance) lost its bid in the Supreme Court of Appeal to stop the government from implementing e-tolls. This effectively gave the green light for the government to go ahead with tolling this year.
According to Sanral, only the police, military, metro police, ambulances, fire brigades and qualifying public commuter transport operators will be exempt from e-tolls. This means all vehicles owned by Gauteng's 12 municipalities and government departments will pay e-tolls - with ratepayers' money.
"Effectively all of their cars will be paid for by society," said Wayne Duvenage, Outa spokesman. "They [government] will pay and they will pass that charge on to society. Society pays government bills anyway. It is shocking."
Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona confirmed it was discussing with the Department of Justice the allocation of courts to deal with e-toll infringements.
The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday voiced its concern about this move.
CEO Neren Rau said: "These structures will create an additional fiscal burden that road users will have to pay for and will duplicate existing judicial structures."
Dawie Roodt, an economist, said the e-tolls would not add any value to the economy.
He added: "It is not just the R30 that you will pay for the day pass. It is the time that you are going to stop to get the day pass ."
The general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers, Irvin Jim, said e-tolls were being imposed on the people of South Africa against their will.
"Where people decide that they will impose their will on the people it will not succeed," he said.