E-tolls and your business – What are your rights?

Everybody that lives and visits in Gauteng now have to contend with the Sanral e-tolls as well as the normal e-tolls on the roads in the province.

This has been a very contentious issue since before its inception and continues to be the main topic in many conversations. Unfortunately the systems and procedures that have been set up to manage this system, seem to be falling far short of normal service delivery, never mind being user friendly.

Just like with other laws, rules and regulations of a country – you need to make sure that you know your rights, especially if you run a business.

The most important fact that you need to know in terms of this system is that each vehicle is seen as a user – this is not about the individual, organisation or the business entity. The next, is that nobody can force you to register, but if you have used the road and gone under a gantry – there is a fee payable.

From a business perspective every vehicle registered to that business is considered a user, thus you need to make sure that you manage where vehicles are going to optimise your monthly expenditure.

Here are some tips in how you can manage your costs:

  • Reduce the number of trips your vehicles make by careful planning
  • Use alternative routes to make it more cost effective
  • Allow staff where possible to work from home to avoid e-tolls
  • If there is no other route for your vehicles to take – try and limit the number of vehicles using the toll route
  • Educate your drivers and staff
  • Ensure your vehicles are clearly branded so that it can be recognised on the photographs

What must be kept in mind is that the rules and regulations governing Sanral e-tolls are not the same as for the normal road rules and e-tolls. As such, the current regulations prevent the authorities from withholding a licence over e-toll debt.

Regulation 59 of the National Road Traffic Act does not make provision for withholding licence discs, except under the following conditions :

  1. If there are outstanding licensing fees or penalties against the person in whose name the vehicle is registered; or
  2. If a warrant of arrest has been issued in the name of the person in whose name the vehicle is registered

(courtesy of the Justice Project South Africa website – www.jp-sa.org)

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If you are stopped over e-tolls, keep calm, obey the National Traffic Act rules and you will be fine. Always remember that a traffic officer has the right to stop you in terms of the National Traffic Act, but those laws and rules must be adhered to at all times. Here are some suggestions when handling being stopped by a traffic officer:

  • The authorities have no right to ask a driver about outstanding e-toll bills and the driver can always reply “I don’t know ” to questions on money owed to Sanral.
  • You need to hand over your driver’s licence when asked and your name and ID may be recorded.
  • Motorists should always pull over when requested by a traffic officer and remain calm and polite – anything else would be foolish.
  • Drivers have the right to deny any knowledge of outstanding e-toll bills or to request to speak to the commanding officer.
  • Motorists are not required by law to have an e-tag in the vehicle.
  • If you get handed an infringement notice, accept it and sign for it – do not try and argue a case at the roadside – this is not a courtroom.

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Keep in mind, as a motorist using the road it’s your responsibility to keep yourself updated on all the rules and regulations as well as your right in terms of being a road user. If you own a business, you should ensure that you educate your staff and drivers on these rights as well. When problems occur, reach out to your legal team to assist you in resolving the issues in the correct manner.

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