21 November 2013
Motorists using the freeways in Gauteng without e-tags will pay double the cost per kilometre when the province’s e-tolling system goes live on 3 December.
Making the announcement on the implementation date of the Gauteng e-tolling system in Pretoria on Wednesday, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters thanked those who have already registered and have e-tags.
“We encourage motorists who haven’t registered to do so,” Peters said. “Unregistered motorists will be levied almost double the cost per kilometre. You need to register in order to have access to the discounts offered by the South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral).”
Peters said Sanral had to be allowed to start collecting toll fees in order to begin to repay the debt incurred when the roads were upgraded under the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.
“We cannot afford to continue to expose Sanral’s portfolio to any further financial risks, having suffered two downgrades by international credit rating institutions.”
Extensive freeway upgrades
She said it had been a long road since the day the project to upgrade the road network on some parts of Gauteng’s highways had been proclaimed. Since the first phase of the project had been completed, Gauteng motorists had enjoyed the convenience of driving on world-class highways, Peters said.
Three-lane roads had been expanded to five and six lanes in some instances. A high- tech travel demand intelligence system had been introduced to ensure constant and accurate monitoring of traffic on the e-tolled road network.
The system ensures that officials manning traffic flows from the operations centre in Samrand are able to pick up incidents such as car breakdowns and crashes as they occur and mobilise the necessary response.
Sanral had also introduced a “golden hour” service, where emergency vehicles stand ready to respond to reported incidents on various section of the highways, thus helping to prevent traffic jams and secondary crashes.
The e-tolling system will also contribute to the fight against vehicle cloning, because the technology picks up and reads car registration details.
The government had made several concessions as part of efforts to minimise the financial burden on the users of the Gauteng e-tolled road network, Peters said, with tariffs reduced and registered public transport exempted.
“We have moved from 66 cents per kilometre to the current 30 cents for light motor vehicles for registered road users who are in possession of an e-tag.”
Peters said the province’s highway upgrades had come at a cost, with Sanral having gone to the markets to raise at least R20-billion to implement the upgrades.
“This was due to the inadequacy of resources to respond to what was becoming a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode: the ever-growing congestion on the highways, particularly between Pretoria and Johannesburg, was reaching crisis proportions.
“Business, in particular the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had already expressed concern about the impact on business due to congestion and insufficient maintenance.”