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'Withholding licence discs over unpaid e-toll bills won't work'

Outa says government’s threat to withhold licences is not going to make much of a difference.

An e-toll gantry on the N1 in Johannesburg. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) says government's threat to withhold vehicle licence discs over unpaid e-toll bills is not going to improve compliance.

Instead, it predicts motorists will continue to revolt.

Outa told Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Transport yesterday that it is not too late to halt the unpopular electronic tolling system in Gauteng.

Gantries along some of the province's busiest highways went live in 2013.

Less than 10 percent of motorists pay for e-tolls.

Outa's chairperson Wayne Duvenage warns it could open up a new level of defiance.

"Because if this, e-toll defiance programme moves into licence defiance that is the anarchy we do not want."

The Democratic Alliance (DA) agrees.

But Duvenage had a tough time trying to convince African National Congress (ANC) Members of Parliament on the committee that e-tolling should be scrapped.

FUEL LEVY INCREASE AN ALTERNATIVE

Outa has also argued that a fuel levy is the best mechanism to pay for Gauteng's freeways.

Outa has consistently said a 9 cents per litre increase in the fuel levy would be an alternative to e-tolling.

Duvenage says the current electronic tolling system is expensive, inefficient and unworkable.

"Sanral can continue e-tolling. The example I will give you is, you can liken it to the lights being on at the disco, the music is playing, but there's no one on the dance floor. There's no one at this party and yet we are paying R70 million a month to the e-toll collection process. Nothing is going into the tarmac."

ANC MP Mtikeni Sibande was dismissive of the fuel levy alternative.

"If you talk about a fuel levy, my understanding is that that fuel levy is collected to the central revenue fund and gets allocated according to the needs and demands. For example, the Road Accident Fund."