SANRAL is using private debt collection to follow up on instances where E-Tolls have not been paid. This comes after road users were notified via SMS that their non-payment has been noted by SANRAL and that legal proceedings will follow.
SANRAL introduced the idea of E-Tolls through early policy in 2007 (at the time of the implementation of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project) and was implemented in 2013. At the time of implementation, there was much contention surrounding E-Tolls, with the formation of Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) clearly showing the Gauteng public’s disapproval. Many South Africans refused to pay their E-Tolls, and even fewer made use of the E-Toll tags which registered users and made billing easier. This led to overdue toll fees in excess of R1 billion by Gauteng road users in just 6 months.
Because of the shortfall, and SANRAL’s bad credit rating because of non-compliance, the organisation as well as its tolling system went under review in 2013 and 2014. Since then tolling charges have dropped significantly, and overdue fees were given discounts if paid before a particular date in 2015. However, there has been a change in 2016. SANRAL began sending SMS’s to road users who had amassed overdue unpaid tolls informing them that legal action will be taken because of non-compliance.
It was soon found by OUTA that SANRAL has contracted the use of a private debt collection company, ITC Business Administrators, to do the dirty work of following up on non-payment. However, both the state-run organisation and the company have landed in hot water as, at times, ITC has misrepresented itself as SANRAL when conducting communication with road users. Contact via SMS with a threat of legal action is in direct violation of Debt Collectors Code of Conduct as well. There are no grounds upon which SANRAL call legally enforce E-Toll payments, and at this stage, it is not a criminal action to avoid paying E-Tolls.