The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) will use the Criminal Procedure Act to ensure that commuters on the roads that are part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project pay toll fees when tolling is implemented on 30 April.
The act details legal procedure for the country's criminal system, including arrest, pleading, verdict and sentencing.
"People are under the wrong impression that we don't have the ability to prosecute for the non-payment of tolls," Sanral CEO Nazir Alli said on 1 March.
The Sanral Act of 1998 "does empower Sanral to prosecute for non-payment of tolls and the way in which we will need to do it is through Criminal Procedure Act," he said.
Last week the Cabinet said that Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele "will table the necessary legislation to provide Sanral with enforcement powers for tolling".
Alli expected the amendments to legislation to be enacted by the end of the year and said the agency would in the meantime rely on existing legislation to enforce payment on the highly unpopular e-toll project that covers 205km of freeways in Gauteng.Court threat
The Democratic Alliance, the Freedom Front Plus and the Southern African Vehicle Rental Leasing Association have all threatened to take the government to court if the tolling goes ahead.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is to embark on a strike next Wednesday to push for the scrapping of e-tolls.
The vehicle rental leasing association's vice-president, Wayne Duvenage said the decision to "seek a legal route" had not been taken lightly or flippantly.
"We are also receiving numerous calls from other organisations, associations and individuals to support our challenge and are assessing options to incorporate these into a co-ordinated strategy," Duvenage said.
The decision to challenge tolling in the courts was a disappointment, said Alli, as the government had "come to the party" by injecting R5,75bn into Sanral, reducing its debt and allowing the agency to cut the toll fees by 48% for those road-users who hold e-tags.Tolls cut, but...
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced the R5,75bn capital injection during the budget speech last week.
The injection was made to reduce the R20bn debt that Sanral had raised for the project.
Toll fees for e-tag holders for light commercial vehicles have been cut to 30c/km. Fees have also been capped at a monthly fee of R550, and frequent users whose accounts exceed R400 a month will qualify for a 15% discount.
However, relying on the courts to enforce payment of tolls may overwhelm the system and there are also issues of jurisdiction which still need to be resolved.
In addition, transgressors will be forced to pay any outstanding fees connected to the cars when they renew vehicle licences.
Until the changes are made, "we will have to rely on the Criminal Procedure Act, but having said that, with the reduction in the tariff, and having capped it at R550 per month, I honestly believe that people will enjoy now a larger benefit and I do believe will pay," Alli said.
Source: Business Day
via I-Net Bridge