For­eign firms cash in on e-toll ser­vices

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAY­I­BONGWE MAQHINA

FOR­EIGN com­pa­nies that pro­cure e-tags for the South African Na­tional Roads Agency (San­ral) have pock­eted a mas­sive R225 mil­lion from the Gaut­eng Free­way Im­prove­ment Project (GFIP).

This is in ad­di­tion to R327m that has been paid for the print­ing of in­voices and the post­ing for e-toll col­lec­tions.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi re­vealed this in a writ­ten par­lia­men­tary ques­tion from the DA’s Chris­tine Hun­singer on Mon­day.

Maswan­ganyi said the Swedish com­pany Kap­sch Traf­fi­com AB had re­ceived R167 220 930 for the pro­vi­sion and main­te­nance of e-tags to South Africa.

He also said Q-Free ASA, from Nor­way, had pock­eted R58 317 748 for ren­der­ing the same ser­vice.

“The above par­ties were con­tracted for the sup­ply and main­te­nance of e-tags in ac­cor­dance with San­ral spec­i­fi­ca­tions and in ac­cor­dance with the re­quired spec­i­fi­ca­tions of an in­ter­na­tional CEN-278 stan­dard.

“The e-tags were pro­cured in batches in ac­cor­dance with de­mand in terms of the e-toll reg­is­tra­tion for the GFIP project, and for the con­ven­tional toll plazas coun­try­wide,” Maswan­ganyi said.

He said that be­tween De­cem­ber 2013 and De­cem­ber 2014, R124m was paid to­wards in­voice print­ing and post­ing for e-toll col­lec­tions.

Such a re­cov­ery process will be em­barked upon

In the pe­riod be­tween Jan­uary and De­cem­ber 2015, a fur­ther R58m was paid, while R112m was paid be­tween Jan­uary and De­cem­ber 2016.

A to­tal of R32m was paid be­tween Jan­uary and May this year, Maswan­ganyi added.

The money spent on the for­eign com­pa­nies and e-tags comes against the back­drop of San­ral bat­tling to pay off the R20 bil­lion it cost to erect the e-tolls in Gaut­eng.

As fewer mo­torists pay their e-tolls bills, R2.9bn in e-toll in­come was re­ceived from mo­torists as at March 2017 since the e-tolls were in­tro­duced in 2013.

As if that is not enough, the civil so­ci­ety group Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse is wag­ing lit­i­ga­tion on be­half of its mem­bers in re­sponse to the sum­monses San­ral has served on its mem­bers.

Last month, Maswan­ganyi said San­ral was em­pow­ered to re­cover out­stand­ing debt from users who tra­verse the GFIP net­work.

He said the re­cov­ery of out­stand­ing bills was based on the “user pays prin­ci­ple” ir­re­spec­tive of whether the user was reg­is­tered.

“Such a re­cov­ery process will be em­barked upon once all the pre­scribed le­gal pro­cesses have been fol­lowed.

“The owner of a ve­hi­cle that passes un­der a gantry on the GFIP toll roads is li­able to pay tolls to San­ral,” the min­is­ter said.

Maswan­ganyi added that in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies would be taken to court, based on the merit of the par­tic­u­lar case.

Fewer car own­ers pay their e-tolls, which in turn over­bur­dens San­ral.

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