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Sanral to comment on e-toll progress

Sanral will brief the nation on how its systems have coped since the launch of e-tolls.

Sanral will brief the nation on how its systems have coped since the launch of e-tolls. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is expected to brief the nation later today about how its gantries and computer systems have fared since the launch of e-tolling in Gauteng at midnight.

The multibillion rand network has gone live without any reported glitches so far.

The switch-on follows a year-and-a-half of legal battles and protests with the latest court bid to interdict the controversial project collapsing on Monday.

From the heart of the e-toll collection and highway monitoring system in Midrand, a bank of LCD screens, five metres wide and three metres high, displays video feeds from across the Gauteng highway network.

Visitors have to pass through several biometric controlled security doors before entering the control centre, which is staffed by only a handful of officials, including traffic police officers.

Sanral's highway monitoring and toll collection centre in Johannesburg. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

But the real work is done inside the computer servers housed in the complex, which monitor the gantry network and administer toll collection.

Officials at the centre say so far, everything is running smoothly.

Sanral's highway monitoring and toll collection centre in Johannesburg. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

At the same time Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi has thanked Transport Minister Dipuo Peters for operationalising the system this morning.

The MEC told a forum on road safety currently underway in Midrand that e-tolling has been ready for a long time and government is grateful it's finally a reality.

ANC WELCOMES E-TOLLING

The ruling party has welcomed the launch of e-tolling.

It thanked the hundreds of thousands of motorists who have purchased e-tags and is encouraging the rest of the province's drivers to follow suit.

The party says it is aware of the dissatisfaction with the project, but claims it has listened to all concerns and has taken action.

It claims it applied pressure on government to lower the tariffs and to put in place exemptions, such as those covering taxis.

The ANC further says the highways are crucial to the country's economic wellbeing and growth.

An aerial view taken from a helicopter showing a gantry on the N1 highway. Picture: Aki Anastasiou/EWN.

The overriding message from the ANC is: "We all have a part to play."

Opposition parties, trade unions, churches and civil society continue to criticise e-tolling, saying it will collapse through defiance.

DA PROTESTS IN SUNNINGHILL

A small group of Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters have gathered in Sunninghill, north of Johannesburg, to protest against e-tolls.

An aerial view taken from a helicopter showing a gantry on the N1 highway. Picture: Aki Anastasiou/EWN

Motorists are hooting as they drive past the small group of supporters, who are holding a peaceful protest.

They are holding placards, one of which reads, "The poor will become poorer. Vote DA for no tolls."

Councillor Annette Deppe, who organised the protest, says despite the small numbers the reaction from motorists has been positive.

"Surprisingly the diversity of people who are hooting has been very exciting for us to see."

Echoing the sentiments of those against e-tolling, Deppe says there is no way that e-tolls will be successful.

The group is expected to disperse soon.

GAUTRAIN: TRANSPORTING MORE THAN USUAL

Gautrain management says it's anticipating it will transport more passengers today than any other Tuesday since its operations began, partly because of e-tolls.

CEO Jack van der Merwe says there's been a 4 to 5 percent increase in users and that yesterday was the highest recorded Monday, with 51,000 passengers using the service.

"I think there is a block of people that have decided to go towards public transport, which I think is the clever choice."

To read an indepth Eyewitness News e-tolls feature click here.

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