SANRAL’s e-toll debt too great to overcome
Following the recent Parliamentary report back from Minister Peters of SANRAL's e-toll discount dispensation uptake of R145 million, paid by 130,000 motorists (averaging R1,115 per motorist), one wonders what clearer message is required by the Minister to acknowledge that the scheme has failed to achieve its purpose of financing the Gauteng freeway upgrade.
Less than 2,5% of the ring-fenced R5,9 billion debt has been raised, despite a substantial coercive marketing campaign which SANRAL had no doubt hoped would produce a sizable change in fortune.
While the final discount uptake still needs to be confirmed, as SANRAL’s Spokesperson Mr Vusi Mona has indicated that they are still counting the numbers, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) speculates the final tally of the e-toll dispensation carrot will probably fall well below R400 million, being less than 7% of the ring fenced debt. If so, this means the scheme's compliance levels going forward will remain below 30%, which should signal a strong message to the authorities that the e-toll horse they’ve been flogging has been dead for some time now.
Making matters worse for SANRAL is that the outstanding e-toll debt has risen further since September 2015, and is now around the R8 billion mark and climbing, making SANRAL’s debt problem insurmountable. The mind boggles as to how SANRAL intends to issue summonses to an excess of 2,5 million motorists who have never paid a single e-toll bill.
OUTA has largely completed its preparations for the defensive challenge it will be conducting on behalf of scores of its supporters who have been summonsed for the non-payment of e-tolls. “Our action to defend our supporters has advanced on the back of significant additional and important information obtained over the past few years,” says Ivan Herselman, OUTA’s Director of Legal Affairs. “SANRAL and the Governing authorities have a lot to answer for in court, not only on their conduct surrounding the decision to toll Gauteng’s freeway upgrade, but also on numerous technical and procedural matters pertaining to the scheme's practical application.”