Yadhana Jadoo
Political Editor
2 minute read
2 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Clarity needed on who will handle e-toll complaints

Yadhana Jadoo

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) is to meet with the Public Protector's office to determine who will deal with e-toll billing complaints which are being received by both entities.

File photo. A toll gantry on the N1 South near the Maraisburg Road off-ramp. Picture: Michel Bega.

Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga has confirmed that two categories of complaints were being dealt with by his office. A recent one involved a “whistleblower” who has brought to light alleged maladministration in the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral).

The meeting with the NCC is on Tuesday next week, said Malunga. “We still have to get a sense from the NCC of what they are doing in regards to this matter. When you get a wrong bill, it’s a consumer issue. We focus on maladministration and abuse of state power. Therefore, we want to exchange notes, we don’t want to tread onto their terrain.”

Read more: Outa claims proof of e-toll mismanagement

Malunga could “a 100% confirm” that his office was “running with” complaints, including incorrect billing and some shocking charges.

This was the jurisdiction of the NCC, in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, he said, adding that the meeting should clarify the way forward.

“We will be more informed when we hear what the NCC has done so far. People are coming to us because they feel we run this thing, but there are other organs correctly located for this.”

The Public Protector has received about 900 complaints so far. The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) laid a complaint with the Public Protector after a source claims to have gained “damning” information. City Press reported this week that the source, an employee of Austrian company Kapsch, which designed the e-toll system, had cautioned Sanral of the high risk in implementing national roll-out. The e-tolling system was designed to monitor 7 000km of national roads, with tolls being planned for Durban and Cape Town, City Press newspaper reported.

The source also said there were design flaws in the system and Sanral’s control centre in Midrand had been created to monitor all roads in South Africa.

There has been no communication with the source as yet, despite him indicating he would be willing to be interviewed by the Public Protector, according to Malunga.

The only communication so far was with Outa’s John Clarke who is technically a spokesperson, he added. “We are being very careful as most of this is still off the record. I will not say much else for fear of breaching that.”

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona rejected the “so-called informant’s” allegations and said the Public Protector had not yet contacted the entity.

It would “co-operate”, should her office conduct an investigation, he added.

Mona said Sanral and its concessionaires were installing the “electronic toll collection equipment” needed at conventional toll plazas across the country.

Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage again pleaded with government to listen to “critics” of e-tolls in light of the new information provided by a whistleblower on the user payment system.