JOHANNESBRG, South Africa – The Automobile Association in South Africa has announced its concern about the latest public exchanges between the SA National Roads Agency Ltd and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), on issues relating to e-tolls in Gauteng.
The motoring organisation has issued the following statement, which The Corner has elected to simply publish in full. It reads:
The dispute raised in the public domain over the past week by the two organisations relates to legal discussions between them on summonses issued to e-toll defaulters.
IS OUTA JUST LOOKING FOR MONEY?
According to Outa, an agreement was reached that current, and future, Outa members who have outstanding e-toll accounts will not be pursued until a test case to determine the legality of e-tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) is concluded.
Sanral, in turn, denied that an agreement has been reached, claiming that Outa is using this to attract (paid for) membership.
Neither Outa nor Sanral has mentioned the position of non-Outa members, especially those who are not paying their e-tolls accounts, and how they should proceed if they are summonsed by the roads agency.
The AA said: “Whatever the situation, this current round of debate in the media between the two parties is not bringing any clarity to Gauteng road-users on how they must proceed in relation to e-tolls. Many road-users still do not pay e-tolls and are anxious for a final legal ruling.
“In light of this, we urge Sanral and Outa to consider that this is not benefiting anyone.”
‘SELF–PROTECTION’ IN CASE OF SUMMONS’
In addition, the AA noted it is of particular concern that Outa claims an agreement has been reached in relation to its current and future members. The AA said:
“We understand that many (road users) have joined Outa to protect themselves legally in the event they are summonsed to court. We believe there are many who are not, or do not intend to be, a member of Outa or who are a member of other organisations. Their rights should similarly be protected one way or another.
“If it is true that an arrangement has been made (only for current and future Outa members), this amounts to protection for a specific group of individuals, which is wholly unfair and, we would argue, may be unconstitutional.”
It further noted that if Sanral has an agreement with Outa, or any other civic organisations then it does not seem unreasonable to expect a joint statement from all involved parties to this effect.
‘DISMAYED BY ENDLESS DELAYS’
The AA said it is also concerned that the issue of the e-tolls saga was not being resolved quicker.
It pointed out: “As far back as April (2016) we noted that the issue of the validity of the debts would end in court and urged all concerned to resolve this issue as a priority, for the sake of all (road-users) in Gauteng.
“We are dismayed by what seem to be endless delays in bring this matter to finality, a situation not benefiting the most important players in all of this: Gauteng road-users.”