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Road users can now purchase e-tags from selected retailers, online or via the Sanral call centre for R50.
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has announced that the e-toll account registration process is now open.
The registration and distribution of e-tags is the first phase of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). The impending e-tolling system in Gauteng has caused much controversy, but Sanral maintains that all Gauteng e-road users must become e-toll-ready in order to get discounted tariffs.
E-tags are now available at Checkers, Pick n Pay and Shoprite stores for R50. They are also available from e-toll customer service outlets in shopping malls across Gauteng, consumer centres along the Gauteng e-road, via www.sanral.co.za, or the Sanral Call Centre.
All e-toll account-holders can manage their e-toll accounts online through the e-toll Web site, where they will be able to view and print all transactions.
For e-tags not purchased in-store from retailers, a deposit of R50 per vehicle registration is required. E-tags can be delivered for a fee of R60 or collected from a customer service outlet. The R50 deposit is credited to the user's account once it is activated.
Bakwena e-tag holders will need to register for a new e-tolling account, but will not require a new e-tag.
Prepaid or credit
Users can register for either prepaid or credit card settlement accounts. Prepaid account-holders have the option of having the e-toll account automatically topped up from a chosen bank account, when a minimum balance is reached, or they can top up the account manually via EFT, at an e-toll outlet and, in future, at participating retailers.
For credit card account-holders, transactions are rolled up daily and one amount is deducted from the account.
GFIP project manager Alex van Niekerk said at a media briefing on Monday morning: “In terms of our reputation as Sanral, one of the most important parts of this project is keeping the user information private and confidential.”
According to Van Niekerk, the e-toll system has been designed and implemented to conform to the internationally recognised Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standard.
“PCI is a set of requirements designed to ensure companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.”
False number plates
Van Niekerk said road users can select how they want to be identified at the tolls. “We do encourage the use of e-tags though, because they will be the most economical.”
Road users can opt not to fit an e-tag to their vehicles, and can register their number plates only. Such users will, however, forego discounts associated with the e-tags and will only benefit from time of day discounts.
The method of registration encouraged by Sanral, is the linking of an e-tag to a specific vehicle's registration number. E-tag users will qualify for a 31% discount on tolls.
“We are often asked about the problem of false number plates and fraudulent use of e-tags. Unlike number plates, e-tags cannot be cloned and our system can, therefore, check if someone is using a false number plate,” said Van Niekerk.
“We have had many interactions with the police and the ability to know if a vehicle is stolen or flagged is definitely a positive spin-off from the project.”
Van Niekerk explained that users who do not have sufficient funds in their accounts to pay the tolls will be notified. If the user then continues to default on payments, an invoice will be issued. Thereafter, if necessary, a debt collection process will be initiated, followed by a legislative process together with physical enforcement on the roads.
While the current project is focusing on Gauteng, visitors to Gauteng and infrequent e-road users are also encouraged to register for accounts. Day passes will be available for road users travelling through the province; only 12 day passes are allowed per vehicle per year, however, so more frequent users should create an e-tolling account.
Special arrangements can be made for registering an e-toll account for fleets and groups of 50 or more.
“Cabinet earlier announced that qualifying commuter buses and taxis will be exempted from tolls on those routes for which they are registered to operate on. Application for this exemption is not open yet; however, operators that choose to register an e-toll account now may still do so,” says Sanral.
“We are in the ramp-up phase, and South Africans are notorious for waiting up until the last minute, so we expect uptake to be slow at first, but it will gain momentum,” said Van Niekerk, adding that 350 000 e-tags have been distributed to retailers so far, and Sanral is expecting about two million registrations once e-tolling is in full swing.
“It is best for road users to register for now and for the future, as we will be inevitably implementing e-tag readers at tolls across the country, and this will be the way to get the cheapest tolls.”
As Sanral pushes ahead, hearings on anti-toll road petitions are due to be held on Friday, 11 November, by the Gauteng Legislature's Petitions Committee. This is on the same day as a Consultative Forum called by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport.
Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng transport spokesperson Neil Campbell says: “What input can be given by the transport department at the petition hearings if top officials are all at the forum meeting?”
Campbell says the hearings appear to be a farce as Sanral continues to say the tolls will go ahead in February next year, and continues to promote the sale of e-tags.
“The public are being treated with total contempt by both Sanral and the transport department.”
Campbell adds the DA is concerned the Gauteng Petitions Committee hearing has been largely downplayed.
“The 9 618 petitioners represented by the DA have not been told of their right to be heard on Friday, 11th November, at 10H00, in the old Johannesburg City Hall. This effectively deprives the public of their right to be heard.”
Campbell maintains that tolls are “a tax too far, and must be scrapped”.
Responding to a question concerning the current controversy surrounding e-tolling, Van Niekerk said: “We trust that by the time the project goes live next year, all the lingering uncertainties will have been resolved.”
Van Niekerk said the transport minister will make a formal announcement regarding the commencement date for the e-tolling project and final tariffs, but this date is still expected to be in February next year.
“It is best to get registered and to get an e-tag, because it will be the most economical solution,” said Van Niekerk.
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