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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 523: South Africa's e-tolling Disaster

http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/industry-news/e-toll-billing-system-a-disaster-1.1634926#.U0aR3VfK3z8

https://www.facebook.com/TollCrusher

http://citizen.co.za/145173/e-toll-court-action-yet-outa/

http://mg.co.za/article/2014-04-02-sanral-owed-r543m-in-e-toll-debt

http://www.fin24.com/Economy/E-toll-whistle-blower-confirms-suspicions-Outa-20140330

So here are quite a few sources describing the complete disaster that has been e-tolling.

The gist of it is as follows: the government proposed e-tolling as an automated tolling system with cameras tagging where your vehicle travels and then logging it on the automated system so that you get the bill in the mail and pay it online. Check the About page here. The public has basically been against e-tolling since the beginning, mainly because it is seen as a waste of time and money and because the planning and implementation of it has been ineffective. Here is the FAQ page for the biggest opposition group.

In a country (more like a world) where the cost of living keeps going up but income is stagnating this is certainly not a cost that the average household can easily bear. Johannesburg is a large city connected by numerous highways and many people living in and around Joburg have to travel on the highways to get to work and back.

Like most government services in South Africa, it is extremely difficult to get any clear answers from SANRAL regarding e-toll queries. The invoicing system is broken - there is no other word to better describe the state of dis-functionality of the accounting department.

Possibly the worst part is that the government is not being at all open to suggestions from the public. People are telling the government that they cannot pay the tolls - it is too much, they simply cannot afford it. The project was enormously expensive to install and is still hugely expensive to maintain. The government maintains that the collection of tolls will soon drastically shadow these costs - but the real question is what these future profits will be spent on. South Africa is well known as a corrupt nation and its citizens are well aware of the uses that high-up officials have of the tax monies collected. Parties, mansions, luxury vehicles, private jets - There is certainly no expectation from the people that e-toll funds will be put to good use.

More and more South Africa is becoming a nation of small private conglomerations. Communities band together to fund their own private security because the national police service is corrupt and incompetent. There are small private businesses in any city whose sole business is to deal with some government department or another on your behalf so that you don't have to. Those who can afford private healthcare will pay for it - there are even some people who will give up some other living expenses in order to be able to afford private healthcare - simply because public healthcare is more likely to kill you than cure you. Everyone who can afford private schooling will send their children there

E-Tolling is no different to any other South African government service. It was planned and implemented with no foresight. It was designed without considering the welfare of the citizens. It is more likely to benefit a small number of elite than the majority of people. Everyone working within it seems to be completely incompetent and without ethical and moral guidelines. It is ridiculously expensive. Its systems do not function properly.

Gauteng is just the first step - soon the rest of South Africa will follow.

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