The rubber stamping of the Transport and Related Matters bill in parliament on Tuesday was not surprising, as this matter has become a purely one sided party political issue. Virtually every other party opposed the bill in parliament, with the ANC simply using its majority to ram-rail the bill through the system.
What the authorities are ignoring is the fact that an overwhelming majority of society has rejected e-Tolling. Without the support and trust of society, cumbersome and inefficient systems of this nature run the risk of failure, as has been the case in many parts of the world.
It is a shocking reality that the eToll launch is nearing two years after its planned initial launch date of April 2011. One would have expected all the regulatory and system requirements would have been in place at that time, yet, the Department of Transport and SANRAL keep blaming OUTA for their delay in launching their irrational and expensive plan. In September 2012, the Constitutional Court set aside the temporary interdict so that SANRAL could get on with the implementation of e-Tolls, which they said would commence within a few weeks of the ruling. Six months have now passed!
OUTA is confident of its challenge to have the current e-Toll plan declared illegal in the Supreme Court of appeal toward the latter part of 2013. Until then, should the authorities ram laws and the system into being, they will have to contend with the consequences of a backlash and rejection of the system from society and the possibility of the system being ruled as unlawful later on.
We believe that the authorities are blinkered on this matter and continue to refuse to see the logic of using more efficient revenue collection methods. Had a decision been taken to add 10c to the fuel levy back in 2006, when the GFIP plan was hatched, they would have raised over R11bn to date for the upgrade. Combine this with the R5,7bn put into the plan by Treasury last year and virtually the entire capital cost of the road upgrade would have been collected by now. This has been a tragic waste of time and effort by our public servants, whose role is to protect society from wasteful expenditure and not to place such an unnecessary burden on its citizens.