Cosatu slams plans to sue eToll defaulters

THE  Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Tuesday described the decision by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to issue summonses to e-toll defaulters as an “extreme form of bureaucratic bullying and arrogance”.

“Cosatu rejects and denounces this form of social harassment and condescension and calls on government to reign in their marauding state entity, Sanral,” said Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla.

“The Gauteng motorists are not going to be held liable or shoulder responsibility for government’s decision to implement a policy, which has been unanimously rejected by the overwhelming majority of Gauteng residents. To use legal threats and coercion in an attempt to bully people into submission will not work, but it will result in the further wastage of our resources.”

The roads agency has said defaulters, including businesses, would receive court summonses in the next few days following an extensive period of communication with vehicle owners who neglected to pay.

The Organisation Uniting against Tax Abuse (OUTA), which opposes urban tolling, said on Tuesday that the latest decision by Sanral was questionable.

“It would appear then that companies and people who may therefore be at risk of summons, are those who have signed Sanral’s e-toll contracts in the past and have now defaulted on these,” said OUTA.

“However, even in this situation, we know that many businesses would have initially signed these agreements under duress of Sanral’s initial threats of criminal prosecution and would have a strong chance to defend their rights of ceasing to pay for the unjust e-toll scheme.”

The organisation, previously known as the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance which recently changed its name to the Organisation Uniting against Tax Abuse, said it would defend its members if they were summoned to court for not paying outstanding e-toll bills.

Pamla said Sanral’s action was a waste of taxpayers’ money and urged government to “listen to the people and scrap e-tolls”.

In May last year, in a bid to encourage motorists to comply, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that tariffs would be halved for most categories of vehicles.

The announcement did little to dampen public dissatisfaction with e-tolls. Opposition parties and organisations such as Cosatu and OUTA have vowed to continue boycotting e-tolls.

Sanral is owed approximately R5 billion in e-toll bills.  – ANA