TRANSPORT: Capetonians Will Get E-Clobbered
Recent Western Cape Business News
CAPE motorists who drive to Johannesburg could find themselves paying three times the standard toll fee to use the new Gauteng freeways and nearly six times the discounted rate for locals who fit E-tags to their cars and have E-toll accounts.
This is clear from the schedule of tariffs for the toll roads which was gazetted on Friday, April 13.
Mr Peter Hugo, chairman of the Cape Chamber of Commerce’s Transport Portfolio Committee, said the special new rate was clearly an attempt to bully Gauteng freeway users into opening E-tolling accounts.
The only way round the punitive tariffs would be for visitors to buy day passes at a cost of R30 per day.
The Chamber has already written to the Department of Transport to object to the E-tolling system, the way it has been introduced and plans for a special uniformed force to police the system.
“We were given just 20 days to comment and the period included the Easter holidays,” Mr Hugo said. “We objected to the short notice but the department has made the situation even worse by creating a new category of user on the last day of the time for comment.”
In its letter of objection the Chamber said the plans for a uniformed force to police the freeways simply added to administrative costs and would not be necessary if a simple fuel levy had been used. “Business understands that the roads have to be paid for but objects strongly to the use of electronic systems to sustain an unnecessary administration.”
The proposed legislation failed to recognise that most commercial vehicles were not driven by their owners and that a single vehicle could be driven by several drivers during the course of a month. The enforcement officials would be able to question drivers on the payment of toll fees but drivers would not know the answers as the owners and not the drivers were billed for toll fees. In the case of a hired vehicle, the driver would have no way of knowing how or where or by whom the vehicle was previously used. This, said the Chamber, was like making the new owner of a used car responsible for the previous owner’s traffic fines.
The Chamber said the presumption that the owner drove the vehicle was unrealistic and unenforceable. “While owners could be responsible for their authorised employees, companies which hired out trucks and cars could not be expected to assume responsibility for their clients.
The Chamber was concerned that the system was open to fraud and that innocent drivers could be held responsible for the actions of others. “We already have a serious problem with cloned number plates, cloned credit cards and there is no reason to believe that it will not be possible to clone E-tags.”
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