Gauteng's e-tolls gazetted
E-tolls are going ahead, and for those expecting the government to sweeten the deal with lower tariffs, it isn't going to happen.
Government Gazette 35756, which was expected to be released publicly today, gives different toll rates for the 49 gantries across Gauteng: rates for standard, e-tag and alternative users, and discounted rates.
And despite earlier radio news reports that the tariffs would be lowered, the gazette gives no indication of this.
There is no hint of when e-tolling will begin. This shows that the government is waiting for the judicial review against e-tolling to be completed before announcing an implementation date.
Unlike the April gazette, alternative users who pay their toll fees within 30 days will be given a 60 percent discount, but this still works out to being higher than what an e-tag user will pay.
A monthly cap on heavy vehicles has also been included for the first time. Motorbikes and ordinary cars are capped at a maximum of R550 a month, class B at R1 750 and class C at R3 500.
As reported by The Star in April, the tariffs mean that every time you pass through two of Joburg's busiest interchanges - Allandale and Gillooly's - you will pay more than R6 each time if you are not an e-tag user.
If you do have an e-tag, it will cost half of that. Alternative users - who do not register with Sanral at all - will pay three times as much.
The gantries vary significantly in their fees. Those going through the Ilowe gantry on the N1 will pay R1.16, but those passing Letata near Olifantsfontein will pay R8.12.
Punitive rates for alternative users can go as high as R19.50 for Lenong on the N12 for ordinary cars. For trucks, this can go as high as R100 for alternative users per gantry.
The latest gazette includes e-toll exemptions that were not published before: registered taxis, public transport, scholar transport and emergency vehicles belonging to the Gauteng provincial government, the City of Joburg, City of Tshwane and Ekurhuleni get exemption. There is no mention of private emergency vehicles receiving exemption.
Those applying for public transport exemption have to be registered and apply to Sanral for exemption. They must also pay a R100-per-vehicle application fee. Others who want to apply for exemption may do so, but will be granted it at Sanral's discretion.
Those who do receive exemption will be issued with an e-tag and a form of identification issued by Sanral. Exemptions will last three years, after which users will have to apply again.
Yesterday the cabinet, in a statement, said the inter-ministerial committee on e-tolls had approved the gazetting of the terms and conditions.
"This launches a 30-day period for public comment, allowing people beyond those groups with whom the inter-ministerial committee has formally consulted to make their input," it said.
The 30-day period expires one day before the start of the judicial review against e-tolling launched by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa). The review is set down for November 26. Fourteen days after the review, the final e-toll gazette will be published.
Today's gazette makes it clear the tariffs remain at 30c/km for e-tag users, while standard rates are more than double this amount.
The announcement in April of this tariff was met with outrage, and numerous organisations said they would take the government to court.
The alliance's Wayne Duvenage said they were disappointed with the committee's recommendation to proceed with e-tolling.
"It is clear from both Outa's engagements and feedback from other key stakeholders that the exorbitant e-toll administration costs remain overlooked despite the flawed economic benefits which is the core argument presented by the government," he said.
AA spokesman Gary Ronald said the gazette showed the government was going on a huge drive to get motorists to buy e-tags.
"We encourage motorists to wait until the judicial review is over before registering and buying e-tags," Ronald said.
"We also encourage everyone to make their comments. This will be your last opportunity to say that you don't want this system."
DA spokesman Jack Bloom said it was unfair to call for public comment when the e-toll contract has not been made public.
"Public opposition will remain unless the government can show it is genuinely willing to address legitimate concerns by people who feel very financially stressed."