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E-tolls go live without a hitch

Sanral is expected to update the nation today on how its systems are coping since the launch of e-tolls.

Sanral is expected to update the nation today on how its systems are coping since the launch of e-tolls. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The midnight launch of the multibillion rand e-tolling network has been met with anger from motorists, but appears to be off to a steady start with no reports of any major problems.

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is expected to give the nation an update this morning about how its gantries and computer systems have fared since the launch at midnight.

The launch follows a year-and-a-half of legal battles and protests, with the latest court bid to interdict the controversial project collapsing yesterday.

For now, it appears Sanral's lawyers were right and today is shaping up to be like any other day on the highways.

Yesterday saw a last-minute rush for e-tags and Sanral says well over 800,000 motorists have registered. A fresh figure is expected to be released this morning.

The overwhelming sentiment from motorists interviewed at Sanral outlets yesterday was that they simply have no choice but to comply.

One motorists said the extra expense is going to be challenging.

"They have warned us that they will take legal action against us. People don't have money, but they still want to [take] the little bit that we have."

In September, President Jacob Zuma signed the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill into law which effectively gave the green light for the controversial system to be implemented.

CALLS FOR DEFIANCE

Civil society, opposition parties and churches have vowed to keep fighting the controversial project, hoping to collapse it through defiance and non-compliance.

Critics say Sanral isn't ready to handle the kind of volume of transactions required to run the system.

Protests and meetings opposing the system's launch will be held this morning by numerous organisations such as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Democratic Alliance.

The first anti e-tolling march is expected to get underway shortly.

There may be other unplanned marches later in the day.

Cosatu is also due to host a briefing to reaffirm its opposition.

But it remains to be seen what impact these efforts will have on the effectiveness of the system.

'DRIVERS WILL EVENTUALLY COOPERATE'

Eyewitness News commissioned market research company Ask Afrika to conduct a snap survey of the province's drivers a day ahead of the launch.

The story which emerged is that nine out of 10 people had waited until the last moment to buy their e-tags, but a third of the 220 people asked said they will eventually cooperate.

The company's Paidi Mugudubi says the research found that the majority of motorists are willing to switch to alternate routes, but don't believe these will cope if flooded with extra cars.

Sanral has urged motorists not to break the law or face living with a criminal record.

Mugudubi said it would be interesting to go back and question these motorists a few months down the line.

"At the moment, there seems to be an indication that there is a lot of apathy but it's different when you actually have a debt collector at your door."

SOCIAL MEDIA

There's anger on social networks from motorists who've driven under the gantries and will now be paying for it.

Motorists will just learn to tol..e(rate) the e-tolls, like we've been tolerating #Nkandla

And the e-tolls go live #dontbuyetags #etolls

Let the mugging begin #e-tolls day 1.

Tomorrow me is gonna be a law abiding citizen and approach the license office on how to register my fleet of cars as taxis! #etolls

Like the World did not end when ANC signed Gay Marriage, Abortion and other unpopular bills, the world won't end because of e-tolls.

Two best ways to unite a nation: host a FIFA World Cup, and introduce e-tolls

People should pay for E-tolls wheeeeeen Zuma pays for Nkandla. #HowAboutThat ;)

To find out how the etolls system works and how much you could pay click here.