'Motorists will eventually accept e-tolling'

The multibillion rand system is scheduled to go live next week.

Sanral CEO Nazir Alli. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says motorists will eventually accept e-tolling.

The multibillion rand system is s cheduled to go live on 3 December.

The project has been massively controversial with failed legal bids to stop it and fresh calls for civil disobedience ahead of next week's launch.

But Sanral's Nazir Alli says South Africans shouldn't vent their frustrations about general corruption and wasteful spending on the project.

"Eighty three percent of people who use this road network will pay no more than R100 per month."

He says the public should look at the positive side of the project.

"We don't always look at some of the positive things and I believe improvements to the highway outweighs the charges involved."

On Sunday, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters warned that drivers who refuse to comply with e-tolling will face the full might of the law.

Alli echoed the minister's comments on Monday.

He warned motorists to pay the bill within seven days or a debt collector would be sent.

But Patrick Bracher, senior director at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, believes carrying out the threat would prove extremely inefficient.

"That's not as easy as it seems. Assuming you only go through one e-toll a month and your account is R17.40, there's no economic way of collecting that."

Bracher added that it's unusual and unfair to expect payments to be made in such a short period.

"It doesn't seem to be good that one talks about seven days. I know very few people in commerce who expect invoices to be paid in seven days."

The call for civil disobedience continues to grow, with a number of prominent unions, political parties and civil groups urging motorists not to buy e-tags and to ignore invoices.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has gone so far as to threaten the ruling ANC.

It says it's considering withdrawing all support for the party if e-tolling goes ahead.