AARTO’s e-toll fines show system is unworkable

Proposed AARTO regulations are unworkable and emphasise the need for alternative funding for Gauteng freeways.

26/10/2020 10:30:21

                                                                                                                                                                                                                AARTO’s e-toll fines show system is unworkable


                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The proposed AARTO regulations provide for unenforceable fines on e-tolls and conflict with SANRAL’s policy of no longer enforcing collections.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The draft regulations allow the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) to fine motorists who don’t pay e-tolls R500 per unpaid gantry, plus a further R100 administration fee for each notice informing the motorist of the fine. The media has calculated this could cost motorists as much as R4 800 in fines and levies administration charges for failing to pay e-tolls on a trip from Sandton to Pretoria.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Motorists will also not be able to renew their licenses if they do not pay these fines, as enforcement orders are expected to accrue should these “fines” remain unpaid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                OUTA has filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the AARTO Act and the AARTO Amendment Act, as OUTA is of the opinion that this legislation intrudes upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments as envisaged in the Constitution. OUTA is currently compiling comments on the draft AARTO regulations, which will include comment on various aspects of the regulations. OUTA also has a long-standing legal challenge against the Gauteng e-tolls, which SANRAL placed on hold indefinitely in March 2019.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                SANRAL’s avoidance of OUTA’s legal challenge on the e-tolls complicates matters for both SANRAL and the RTIA if the RTIA decides to implement the proposed AARTO regulations and collect on the absurd e-toll scheme.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The issue of fining motorists under AARTO for unpaid e-tolls is not new and OUTA has raised this problem with the previous version of the regulations, which aimed to enforce e-toll compliance but were never brought into effect. While the regulations technically do allow these fines to be levied for unpaid e-tolls, when (and if) AARTO comes into effect in 2021 the impracticality of implementing this makes a mockery of both the regulations and the e-toll scheme. It would require processing traffic fines and reminders for every unpaid gantry e-toll bill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Legislation is only effective if it can be enforced and OUTA believes this is unenforceable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                OUTA’s case challenging the legality of the e-toll scheme must still be heard in court.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In addition, we are still waiting for Cabinet to announce its long-promised decision on the future of e-tolls and funding options for the Gauteng freeways. The failure to make this decision results in convoluted legislation such as the draft AARTO regulations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The draft regulations are open for comment to the Department of Transport and RTIA until 1 December. OUTA will make its comments public.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Since OUTA’s inception in 2012, it has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to bring an end to the failed e-toll scheme. We believe that the government will shortly announce its plans to do away with e-tolls in the current format, as the empirical evidence has clearly shown this is an unmanageable and unenforceable system. Until Cabinet makes an announcement to reverse the irrational decision it made on this scheme in 2008, OUTA will continue to challenge this matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The draft AARTO regulations are here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                A soundclip with comment from OUTA Legal Project Manager Andrea Korff is here.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.