Private Debt Collection For E-Tolls
Private debt collection is being used by SANRAL to follow up on instances where E-Tolls have not been paid. Road users were notified by SANRAL via SMS that their non-payment has been noted and that legal proceedings will follow. After this notification SANRAL appointed the services of private debt collectors.
At the time of the implementation of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, SANRAL introduced the idea of E-Tolls through early policy in 2007 and it was implemented in 2013. The formation of Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) clearly showed the Gauteng public’s disapproval at the time of implementation of these very contentious E-Tolls. E-Tolls were not accepted by the public and 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. In a matter of 6 months, overdue toll fees in excess of R1 billion were recorded in Gauteng.
SANRAL and it’s tolling system went under review in 2013 and 2014 because of the shortfall in toll fees and SANRAL’s bad credit rating as a result of non-compliance. Although tolling charges dropped significantly since then and overdue fees were given discounts if paid before a certain date in 2015, there has been a change in 2016. SANRAL started sending out SMS’s to road users who had amassed unpaid toll fees, informing them that legal action will be taken because of non-compliance.
OUTA soon discovered that SANRAL had contracted the use of a private debt collection company, ITC Business Administrators, to do the unpleasant work of following up on non-payment. Unfortunately, both SANRAL and ITC Business Administrators have landed in hot water at times, as ITC had misrepresented itself as SANRAL when communicating with road users. To contact a person via SMS with a threat of legal action is in direct violation of the Debt Collectors Code of Conduct. At this stage, it is not a criminal offense to avoid paying E-Tolls and there are therefore no grounds for SANRAL to legally enforce E-Toll payments.
JA Attorneys are specialist debt collection lawyers in Johannesburg. Contact us today.