THE BLOG

Sanral -- The Bully Villain Taken to Court

The entire e-toll saga has been a sham from the very beginning.

12/12/2016 04:56 SAST | Updated 12/12/2016 04:56 SAST
ASSOCIATED PRESS/Themba Radebe
Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters protest against the electronic road tolling system outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

OUTA (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse) chairperson, Wayne Duvenage, although not an advocate is basically the Gerrie Nel of the private sector. The public's knight in shining armor, the guy that's in court on a regular basis fighting the good fight against Sanral (The South African National Roads Agency), also known as public enemy number three.

Vusi Mona, Sanral spokesperson, better known as the angel of death and justifier of the purple lights was quoted last week by ANN7 (the Gupta controlled news agency) saying that: "The administrative process by which the issuing of vehicle license discs are blocked for contravening the National Roads Act (NTA) is being finalised, now that the court process with the service provider managing the eNatis system has been concluded in court."

What this means is, the eNatis system that keeps records of vehicle information such as fines will now be managed by a government entity and no longer by a private firm, giving them autonomy to incorporate unpaid e-toll bills into the license renewal process. Therefore, if you haven't paid your e-toll bill, you can't renew your vehicle license. Getting caught driving without a new disk comes with a traffic fine, then a summons, arrest warrant, arrest on the spot, jail with court appearance plus vehicle impounding. Traffic officers will now play the role of middlemen and this will present another opportunity for them to wet their beaks with "cold drinks" or become the henchman of Sanral.

Sanral reminds me of that oversized bully, standing with his cavalry in the middle of the school hallway, doing their lunch money shakedown. Although in this case, the lunch money needs to be converted to euro and sent to Austria.

Suppose this happens, Johannesburg will become ungovernable. Not because a million people in the town carry guns and are trigger happy and not because the town has a million non-payers that will clog up the courts for years as well as the streets in roadblocks, but because there are a million other people in and amongst those millions of people that simply can't afford to pay thousands of rands per year. Thus Sanral will be left with the trying task of getting blood out of a stone. With this as their last move, not even Adam Byars' award winning advertising agency GRID could save them now.

From the onset, the entire project was a sham. It's absurd to propose an upgrade cost of R6,8bn for 185km of road, and think it's acceptable to show a final cost of R17,9bn with an additional R2,bn over and above that going towards implementing the e-toll infrastructure.

Sanral reminds me of that oversized bully, standing with his cavalry in the middle of the school hallway, doing their lunch money shakedown. Although in this case, the lunch money needs to be converted to euro and sent to Austria.

I would have no problem going out on a limb and saying that, if Sanral implemented and enforced this intimidation threat, the organization and their staff would become the most hated faction in South Africa. I'm predicating that 85% of vehicles on the road would have no plates and tinted windows, those gantries would be blown-up, there would be car blockades on every etoll highway, Sanral vehicles would be stoned and set alight, the ANC would lose millions of votes and policeman would fear traveling in anything but a Casspir. Consequently, the only person prospering would be Darren Winer from armouredvehicle.co.za.

Sanral should have Obamacare'd their way in, cheap and sexy but instead, as Malema so eloquently put it, "they molesting us without Vaseline" which is not exactly romantic. Either way these innovative, mandatory taxation tricks, even as a levy on fuel might start out low but will inevitably end up high. Obamacare has more than doubled for some people so as a golden rule, it seems plausible to perpetually reject anything mandatory from government.

I've looked at this from every angle and I cannot see Sanral ever getting their R12bn in owed e-tolls bills. They can drop their fees by 90% and Black Friday us all year round, the 11 tribes have spoken and it's only a matter of time before those purple lights provide no use or cant be maintained and land up working as well as a Louis Botha robot.