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The government will hold further talks about the toll system planned for highways around Joburg and the rest of Gauteng. The system is meant to be piloted from April and up and running from June.
A SUMMIT to look into the Gauteng road tolling system is expected to be held soon following widespread criticism of the system and the proposed toll fees.

 

A toll gate on the N1 freewayA tolling point on the N1 freewayTransport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said talks would be held in March regarding the toll system on roads in the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).
 

This comes after heated debate about the tolls, which would force motorists in Gauteng to pay a reported 66c per kilometre to drive on provincial freeways. The Open Road Tolling (ORT) systems is expected officially to be up and running from June, but piloted from April.

“Over the past weeks, we have been listening to the various views regarding the tolling of the GFIP. There will be further engagement on this matter. However, constructive proposals and solutions are required. There will be no scapegoats,” he said.

Following the recent announcement of the tariffs, heated debate ensued from the taxi industry, labour, opposition parties, the provincial ANC, the business sector and the concerned public, who all make use of the freeways.

According to Ndebele, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) had already stepped forward with proposals.

User pays
He said: “The user-pay principle to upgrade and expand Gauteng freeways was mooted by the Gauteng provincial government in the late 1990s. Since then, there have been numerous engagements and consultations between national government, provincial and local government in Gauteng as well as other stakeholders.

“We need good roads throughout the country and we have to come up with innovative ways to finance them.”

The new electronic system falls under the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and was set up to ensure that motorists pay for the roads they use. This multi-lane free flow tolling system will be piloted from April this year.

Toll fees will be deducted from the motorists’ registered etoll accounts; those opting for the system will be able to travel without disruptions. A vehicle’s number plate will be photographed from the front and back as part of the verification process, and also for all those that do not have an etag.

Wanda Cloete, Sanral’s project manager for communications, said: “Sanral will request that Gauteng road users register their vehicles for etolling. Road users will have the option to be recognised by their number plates, or by etag.”

Etoll
Road users can register for an etoll account through Sanral; at etoll customer service kiosks at malls; at etoll customer service centres along the freeway network; by phoning the call centre; or by buying an etag.

If a user decides to get an etag, he or she will need to deposit a minimum credit, which will be specified by Sanral, into his etolling account. This credit will allow the road user free toll passes in the same amount as the credit deposited.

The etolling account, which road users will link to their vehicles, can be set up as a pre-paid account with Sanral. Money can be paid into this account through various options such as retail outlets, the internet, etoll customer service centres and kiosks. Motorists can also link their etolling accounts to their credit cards. More than one vehicle can be linked to an etolling account.

Gantry
Overhead gantries or tolling points will ensure that each time a vehicle passes underneath, a toll will be charged. The cost to be paid per gantry will be calculated by the kilometres it represents; the tariff is the distance multiplied by the cents per kilometre. Prices can be calculated online.

It is referred to as a directional toll strategy, which was found to be the most equitable for road users, says the Department of Transport. In some cases, road users might travel on the tolled route but exit the system before passing a gantry, which would mean a free ride. However, on the return trip, the road user might pass a gantry, for which they will be charged.

According to Sanral, the benefits of the new GFIP infrastructure are smoother, faster and safer journeys, with reduced congestion. This is achieved by:

The widening of the freeways to four and six lanes in each direction;
Upgrading a total of 34 interchanges;
Providing median lighting and intelligent transport systems on 185 kilometres of road on the Gauteng etoll network;
Variable messaging signs, CCTV cameras and incident managing services;
Using variable messaging signs, Sanral will be able to warn road users of incidents and help drivers with eroute, up-to-date information;
CCTV cameras will shorten the time it takes to report an incident, greatly reducing the response time for emergency services; and
Improving incident managing services will reduce the effects of congestion and delays, as well as provide time-crucial medical assistance sooner.
Road users will also get a discount if they register for an etag.

For more information about the system, visit the Sanral website or call 012 426 6200 or email info@nra.co.za

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