E-tolls: the system is working but not without some challenges
SANRAL welcomes the opportunity given to it today by the Parliamentary Transport Portfolio Committee to update its members about e-tolling - both the positive side, which has been under-reported, as well as the challenges.
On the positive side, SANRAL explained to the Committee that the toll system is stable and handling large volumes (high registration volumes and a high number of inquiries), especially as part of the initial ramp-up period. The system has a monthly user population of about 2,6 million individual vehicles and only 0,3% of those drivers per month have raised complaints through different channels (at Customer Service Centres, Call Centre and via the web).
The total number of e-tags taken up to date is approximately 1.2 million, with more than 500 000 individual vehicles registered since e-tolling commenced on the 3rd December 2013 and between 30 000 and 45 000 registrations taking place on a weekly basis. Over 100 000 users so far registered an e-toll account via the e-toll website.
"These high numbers, we told the Committee, indicate that motorists are prepared to cooperate with us in making the system work - a view we have always held that generally South Africans are law abiding citizens who are prepared to make their country work. And for that, we as SANRAL, are thankful to the motorists and companies who have registered, including those who have not registered for e-tags but are nonetheless paying their e-tolls" said the agency's CEO Nazir Alli.
Alli and his team pointed out that the system is exposing historic problems, namely
· E-Natis data accuracy (e-Natis inaccuracies, e-Natis data not updated by vehicle owners)
· Cloned and duplicate number plates
· The number of vehicles without number plates (more than 50% of motorcycles don't have number plates)
· Vehicles that are not registered on e-Natis at all (illegal vehicles)
SANRAL acknowledged that due to e-Natis inaccuracies and the data thereon not updated by vehicle owners, some users were receiving invoices not meant for them or not receiving invoices at all.
To mitigate this challenge, SANRAL said it would embark on an education campaign to urge road users to update their information on e-Natis when relocating or changing ownership of vehicles. It said it would also investigate options to improve vehicle owners' ability to check online if details on e-Natis are correctly captured.
The agency also admitted to erratic communication with its website causing slowness of operations, the need to improve customer services at points of presence and the call centre and the need for additional payment channels.
"SANRAL is well aware of the challenges and apologizes to road users for any inconvenience caused. A system of this magnitude was always going to have its teething problems but these are not insurmountable. We, together with the service provider Electronic Toll Company, are making interventions to address all the challenges we have identified," said Alli.
He emphasized that though the complaints were only 0.3 percent of the 2.6 million vehicle population, both SANRAL and ETC took each of these complaints seriously.
Issued on behalf of SANRAL
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