The South African National Roads Agency Limited’s (Sanral’s) various proposals to try and force motorists to pay outstanding e-toll bills are desperate threats and will be extremely difficult to implement, said the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Wednesday.
Sanral CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma explained to the Transport Parliamentary Committee on Tuesday how the parastatal planned to recover money from motorists. He proposed that vehicle licences be withheld over unpaid e-toll debt, using the South African Revenue Service (Sars) as Sanral’s collection agents, and urging insurance companies not to insure vehicles with outstanding e-toll payments.
Outa said the proposal to withhold licences was ludicrous and illegal and that it would challenge Sanral should it be enforced.
“The impact of using coercive tactics such as blocking vehicle relicensing or vehicle sales in order to force the payment of e-tolls, will have negative unintended consequences. It will drag the already cash-strapped municipalities into the e-toll fight. It will impact negatively on local government’s revenue streams and policing processes,” explained Outa.
Further, the nonprofit organisation called Sanral’s plans to approach Sars as debt collectors as “farfetched” and said it would be legally and practically difficult to implement.
Outa said Sars was already strained and this would add further complexity to the revenue service’s collection troubles.
Several years ago the impact of unpaid e-tolls and unlicensed vehicles on vehicle insurance claims was raised. Outa assured that it had then engaged with insurance companies on the proposal and was given confirmation that unpaid e-toll debt would not have a negative impact on motorists’ vehicle insurance conditions.
The organisation said Macozoma’s suggestions were an attempt to resuscitate a dead horse and added that Outa was currently defending 1 100 motorists who have chosen to have their e-toll default summonses defended.
“Outa now calls on the last remaining people and businesses who make up the 25% of Gauteng freeway users who continue to keep the e-toll system on life support to stop paying. The handful of companies (mainly large corporate entities) who appear to be afraid to cross swords with government are the main reason that the e-toll scheme continues to limp along, with approximately R60-million income per month that is barely managing to cover the collection process,” said Outa.
Outa suggested that the test case between Sanral and Outa’s supporters be heard before new proposals are made by the State-owned company and before new legislation is introduced to enforce Sanral’s suggestions.