DA shadow minister of transport Manny de Freitas said in a press statement that the party was “astounded at how much money is being wasted on e-tolls.”
This was in reaction to this week’s parliamentary response by Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi that two European companies had received a total payment of more than R225 million for the supply of e-tags.
The reply disclosed that the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) “also made payments amounting to R327 390 394 [R377.4 million] since 2013 for invoice printing and posting of e-toll bills”.
This was despite a court application brought against Sanral by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) challenging the validity of summonses issued by the road agency against defaulters.
Ben Theron, COO at Outa, told The Citizen that Sanral was required by law to issue the invoices and also prove that defaulters had received summonses. But the problem was that 84% of Gauteng motorists, by Sanral’s own admission, were ignoring the bills sent to them monthly.
“Our official position is that these motorists are saying to government this is an immoral system as there are sufficient means to collect taxes,” said Theron and indicated that they were hoping to go to court in January 2018 on the legality of e-tolls.
When Sanral appeared before parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) in 2016, board members and management were sent packing and told to come back in two weeks to explain to how it had incurred R1.65 billion in “wasteful and irregular expenditure”.
At the time, Sanral had just received its 13th unqualified audit from the Auditor General.
Among a raft of irregularities, the agency was found to have violated its own procurement policy which stipulates “80% and more of the work is to be executed by small contractors of which 90% is to be executed by black companies”.
The Citizen has enquired from Sanral how much the contract with Austria-based Kapsch, reported to be valid for five years, is worth, and we are awaiting answers from the company and the department of transport.