MANY Gauteng business owners were holding back from registering with Sanral as e-tag users notwithstanding the potential impact tolling of highway use may have on their businesses.
Small business owners were seemingly not preparing their businesses for e-tolling while they waited to see what happened with the bill that introduced e-tolls and the courtroom challenges to e-tolling. The bill has recently been signed into law by the president and the legal bid to stop it was rejected.
Sanral announced in early September that 500 000 e-tags had already been bought – 300 000 of them by private individuals. There are about 2.5 million motorists in the province.
Neren Rau, chief executive of the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci), said most of the chamber association’s Gauteng members had not registered as e-tag users but were waiting until the president had signed into law the e-tolls bill.
Gavin Kelly, the technical and operations manager of the Road Freight Association (RFA), said very few of the association’s members have bought e-tags. He said many were waiting for the outcome of the e-tolls appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Business owners in the transport sector in the province will have to plan how they will deal with e-tolling since, as Alvina Dalamba of Letsema Transport and Projects says, it will have a “heavy impact” on their businesses.
Gauteng business owners can expect to pay more to travel on the 185 km of highways covering parts of the N1, N3, N4, N12 and R21 where e-toll gantries have been installed.
While those involved in public transport will be exempt from e-tolls, the tolls will apply to other businesses, particularly road transport firms such as courier companies, distributors and trucking companies; and those on the road a lot such as brokers and door-to-door sales people.
Motorists will be billed according to the number of gantries they pass, type of vehicle they use and time of travel, according to the e-tolls regulations released in May. Rates will be higher in peak traffic times. For example a small delivery vehicle travelling from the William Nicol turn-off on N1 to Lynwood, Pretoria (via the John Vorster turn-off on the N1) between 7 am and 8 am on a weekday and returning on the same route between 5 pm and 6 pm, will have to pay R65.56 with an e-tag or R126.74 without an e-tag.
Registered e-tag users will pay substantially less than unregistered vehicles with fees capped at R450 for registered users of light delivery vehicles, including bakkies). The capped monthly fees for registered users of trucks is however R1 000 and R1 500 depending on the size.
The RFA has tabled proposals on what further relief should be applied to freight transport.
Sanral’s Vusi Mona said business vehicles can claim input VAT, effectively reducing the R450 cap to R395. In addition, it will be a business expense which can be deducted for income tax purposes.
Mona said an analysis of data from Sanral’s toll collection system revealed that only about 4 700 of the province’s 2.5 million vehicles will pay the capped R450 a month.
Tolls, he said, had to be seen in light of the benefits that the new freeway network offered in terms of fuel and time savings.
“Currently, in the event of an incident and a single lane closure, severe traffic congestion is experienced. Without the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project improvements, that would have been the situation on a daily basis,” he said.
Motorists can get their e-tags at a number of outlets. If a road user does not have an e-tag, they will not qualify for the various discounted toll tariffs. Those that do not use the Gauteng e-tolls on a regular basis can either register for an e-tag or buy a day pass.
E-toll users will be able to either manually top up their accounts or link it to their credit card where the account is automatically settled.
Account holders will be notified once their account reaches their selected minimum balance and they will then have to settle their account within seven days of using the e-tolled road.
To calculate e-tolls fees per route visit http://tollcalc.sanral.co.za/etoll.