E-toll bills may be scrapped but your e-toll tag will still be of use, says Outa

The e-toll project which was largely resisted by motorists will end on April 12

03 April 2024 - 16:55
By Rorisang Kgosana
E-tolls in Gauteng will end on April 12.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES/SIMON MATHEBULA E-tolls in Gauteng will end on April 12.

It is likely that outstanding Gauteng e-toll debts will be scrapped once the gantries are switched off on April 12 with the convenient e-tags expected to continue operating on national toll roads.

From next Friday the highly resisted e-tolls will no longer be a pain for Gauteng motorists as the government and the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) announced it will end.

The purple-lit gantries on the province's highways have been defied by thousands of motorists since their introduction in December 2013 with many refusing to pay their e-toll bills.

With the tolls coming to an end, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), which has fought against e-tolls since their inception, told TimesLIVE motorists are likely to get away with not paying a cent. This is because paying e-toll bills was never legislated, Outa CEO Wayne Duvenhage said.

“Sanral has no mechanism to force you to pay, which is why it failed with the e-tolls and they are closing it down. If you haven’t paid, the chances of them coming after you for that debt are slim to zero.

“What can they do about it? They can’t withhold your licence disc as they once threatened. They can’t withhold your driver's licence or blacklist you. They can only file a summons to force you to pay but they stopped doing that in March 2019 as it was not worth the effort any more,” he said.

The scrapping of the project will leave the province with 43 gantries placed 10km apart and the N1, N2, N12 and R21 lit up. However, they will be used as speed traps and for policing purposes such as finding stolen vehicles and identifying stolen and cloned number plates, Duvenhage said.

But motorists should not be quick to remove and discard their e-tags which were read by the gantries and at toll gates as they are expected to be of use on national toll roads.

“If you are going to Cape Town and there’s a toll gate the functionality of those tags will still apply on the long-distance toll plaza. If the car goes under a gantry it won’t work but the car will be charged on toll roads. People will no longer be charged for e-tolls in Gauteng and a lot of people are likely to fit the e-tags for the use of long-distance toll gates,” he said.

The shutting down of e-tolls came after a meeting between the ministers of transport and finance and the Gauteng premier.

With motorists refusing to settle their toll debt to repay the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project an agreement was also reached to finalise alternative funding solutions for the repayment and to deal with the backlog of road maintenance and rehabilitation costs.

Sanral could not provide comment on the way forward, saying a media briefing would be held to provide clarity.