Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I see orange people... and they want you to pay E-Toll!!

If you have used the highways in Johannesburg recently, you would no doubt have come across a team of E-Toll workers dressed in a distinctive orange outfit, looking something like this:

This guy actually spotted me snapping him, and asked what publication I worked for :)
Regardless, there has clearly been a huge recent push by SANRAL to try and make the integration of E-Tolls seem a little bit less daunting to Johannesburg motorists.

I have to say that I generally don't enjoy people whining on and on about things which are going to happen anyway, but the more I learn about the looming E-Toll system in Gauteng, the more I have to question the system...:

  • When a highway in Gauteng becomes congested by an accident or rush hour traffic, cars take the first available offramp and try use the backroads in an attempt to escape the congestion.
    All that this really achieves is a gridlock on the backroads.
    I imagine that people trying to save money by using backroads more often will have the same effect... Great job SANRAL.

  • Have you used the N12 between Edenvale and Benoni anytime recently?
    In short, it requires some hectic concentration in order to stay alive. The road surface is pockmarked and half-completed, the road kinks, narrows randomly, changes levels and pretty much tries its level best to make you soil yourself, all in the name of the "Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project ("GFIP")", to quote www.sanral.co.za.

    Now tolling on a decent 4 lane highway is one thing.
    @SANRAL - please explain to me how the hell you can charge any kind of toll on a road in the state of the N12?
    Will it honestly be completed and in pristine condition before the tolls come into effect on 01 May 2012? That I gotta see...

  • The announcement yesterday of non-E-Tag highway users being charged up to 3 times the normal rates, is a pretty nasty bullying tactic being used by SANRAL to try and force motorists into registering.
    Adding insult to injury, this was done without any form of consultation with the very people who will be paying for the system.
    Not cool, SANRAL.

    You also gotta love the pathetic retort given by SANRAL, in reference to the DA's opposition to the E-Toll system:

    "Responding to the DA, Sanral said: “By continually encouraging users not to register, it is actually the DA that is going to end up costing road users significantly more than they could otherwise have been paying.”"

Anyway, the long and short of it is that the E-Toll system will come into effect at the beginning of May 2012 whether we like it or not.
I have heard some apparent rumours of massive protest industrial action, in the form of truck drivers blocking up major intersections sometime in the coming days, but rumours like these are almost always the product of some over-active imagination with piles of time to waste...

The economical thing to do is to get an E-Tag - at least that way you end up paying less than you would without one (a third of the price), however the principle of the system still does not sit well with a lot (most?) of Gauteng motorists...
Of course, if you do not get an E-Tag or you refuse to pay the bill you get for using the highways, you will be treated as a traffic offender - when the time comes to renew your car licence disk, it will be withheld on the grounds that you have committed a traffic offence and have not paid for it (much like an outstanding speeding fine).
Adding fuel (pun intended) to the fire are the recent petrol price hikes, and not in small increments either...

So let me leave you with some points to ponder as we embark on this interesting exercise in "how to get even more money out of the already cash-strapped middle class"...:

Will you be using more backroads now, in order to save on E-Toll?
Or will you be using highways and pay E-Toll to try and save on petrol?
What's it gonna be - are you going to get an E-Tag?
Have you already got one...?
Maybe you plan to boycott the system entirely in the hope that it will fail completely?

We wanna hear from you on this hot potato topic...
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