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'Higher toll fees will hurt economy'

The Cape Chamber says toll costs should be decreasing with the capital amount being paid.

The Cape Chamber says toll costs should be decreasing with the capital amount being paid. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the increased toll tariffs on national roads will have a negative effect on South Africa's economy.

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) announced that all toll fees, with the exception of the improved Gauteng freeways, are to be increased by 5.8 percent.

The Cape Chamber's president Janine Myburgh said the costs should be decreasing with the capital amount being paid.

"It increases on everybody's bottom line and the person who will carry this is the consumer. It has to be stopped somewhere, we should be trying to improve the economy and not causing further damage to it."

Meanwhile, two weeks ago Sanral said it was meeting its targets for collecting e-tolling revenue and had not started sending summonses to motorists who refused to pay.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) issued a statement to urge drivers not to be intimidated by the looming legal action.

E-tolling was launched in December and has been plagued by billing issues, evacuations at Sanral's command centre and reports of low levels of public uptake.

According to figures released by the Department of Transport, motorists ran up a bill of more than half a billion rand in overdue e-tolls from 1 December 2013 to 1 March 2014.

A total of more than R543 million in unpaid tolls had been transferred to Sanral's Violations Processing Centre, which manages debt collection.

Only nine percent of that amount, which excluded VAT, was collected thus far.

With VAT included, the total amount owed as of 1 March was nearly R620 million.