Who Will Buy an eTag?

On December the Third, the cost of motoring in Gauteng will shoot up with the activation of new eTolls. The authorities want us all to buy and use new eTags, which will enable them to rake in the cash in real time. But will we oblige? ZA Confidential asked some of our experts what they plan to do….

OUTA chairman Wayne Duvenage:
I will not get an eTag and I will not pay for eTolls. I will defy this unjust policy, along with thousands, if not hundred of thousands, to render this unjust policy unworkable.

Mario Pretorius from Telemasters:

Two phrases spring to mind here. ‘You are not my master but my servant’ defines the principle of democracy. Clearly the tin ears in blue light brigades have lost all sense of reason and responsibility, and eTolls are their latest do-what-I-want stunt. The second phrase is ‘any fool can make a rule and most fools keep to it’. Tolling passageways are ancient sources of friction and war. This one has every odious element possible and I will not support it and hope that every citizen will join in making a stand against wrongheadedness. And I lay a R10 wager that it will not operate on 3 Dec.

Company Director Brand Pretorius:
Although I am still very firmly of the view that an increase in the fuel levy would have been a much more effective way of financing the toll roads, I intend getting an eTag – as I am a law abiding citizen. I also accept the reality that if we want a world class roads infrastructure, we need to be willing to contribute financially.

Jeff Osborne from Gumtree:
I shall not be acquiring an eTag as a matter of principle, and support continued passive resistance. The scheme was ill-considered, is devoid of rationale, and was not transparent. Other obvious collection methods would have fully recovered the cost of the freeway upgrade by now. Never since the apartheid era has there been such unanimous and overwhelming public outrage over an issue. We should not just capitulate because the government has bullied its way forward. This might be a lost battle, but the cause certainly is not. We must continue our united opposition to this undemocratic imposition.

George Glynos from ETM:
I am fortunate enough not to have to use the highway to Pretoria very often so I am not affected much. That said, I will not be buying an e-tag in what will be my small protest at the way in which this has been handled, the inefficient money collection method, the fact that there were alternatives that could have been used to reduce the overall cost, and the arrogant stance of government to push ahead with it despite the public outcry. If the public consultation had been conducted effectively as the government would suggest, then why is the public discontent as acute as it is? This will be a huge test on the government’s ability to manage the process on a very reluctant and potentially uncooperative public.

Duane Newman from Cova Advisory:
While I am not keen to pay eTolls, Government needs to be commended for taking an unpopular decision before the elections. I believe that it is a signal that the government can govern and will stop trying to keep everyone happy through the many consultation processes. I want to thank Wayne Duvenage and Outa for all their efforts in making sure that the eTolls are more affordable. Ultimately we need to pay for our great highways in Gauteng. I suppose I have to go and buy my eTag.

Mario Pretorius from Telemasters:
Two phrases spring to mind here. ‘You are not my master but my servant’ defines the principle of democracy. Clearly the tin ears in blue light brigades have lost all sense of reason and responsibility and etolls is their latest do-what-I-want stunt. The second phrase is ‘any fool can make a rule and most fools keep to it’. Tolling passageways are ancient sources of friction and war. This one has every odious element possible and I will not support it and hope that every citizen will join in making a stand against wrongheadedness. And I lay a R10 wager that it will not operate on 3
Dec.

Ian Cruickshanks fromSAIRR:
I will be buying an eTag. I agree with the user-pays principle, and despite the system’s extortionate cost, the likelihood of fines for non-payment is really not worth considering. I feel I have been bludgeoned into submission. This is typical of our government’s modus operandi.

Mike Schussler from economists.co.za:
I will get an eTag as it will make life easier having one than not having one. I do not agree with a system that finances just one road and is expensive, but I am not going to want to pay more than I have to. Also, I think that the system is easy to evade for people who have no address – while those of us with one are going to get caught in the law’s sights. It will end up making honest tax payers into criminals, while they will struggle to charge those who already do not pay much.

Dawie Roodt from the Efficient Group:
As an economist, I understand the benefits of “the user pay” principle. However, in SA there are a few other variables that must be considered – apart from questions about collections, who has benefitted from the toll-road contracts and the like. Our tax burden has increased quite dramatically in recent years. In the past my taxes were used to pay for infrastructure. But for the past few years politicians “forgot” to spend sufficiently on infrastructure – but increased spending on social/current expenditure. Today we realise that we have neglected infrastructure and need to spend vast amounts of money to maintain our crumbling infrastructure and to provide much needed new infrastructure – unfortunately the money needed for this has already been committed to vote-friendly social/current expenditure. The tolls, therefore, are nothing but a “privatisation” of new taxes. And the opposition to the tolls is nothing but a tax revolt! I will be part of the problem…

Conclusion: It will cost more to use the highways for those without an eTag, and that may be the reason many will sign up. However, there is talk of mass defiance, and one wonders whether there is the capacity to administer the system – if very few use the tags, and payments are slow and reluctant. It will be an interesting launch period!

Tweets of the Day:
Moose Allain (@MooseAllain): I must be ill – I thought I saw a sausage fly past my window, but it was actually a seabird. I think I’ve taken a tern for the wurst.
Puns (@omgthatspunny): I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

ZA Confidential is e-mailed to subscribers. For details on subscription rates, please contact zaconfidential@gmail.com. Media releases, invitations to presentations, and feedback on ZA Confidential can also be sent to the same address.


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