ETC collected toll fees on the Gauteng toll network on behalf of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).

The Electronic Toll Collection company will start issuing the first summons to collect outstanding e-toll fees within the next two weeks.

The Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) company, which is operating the Gauteng e-toll system, said it will start issuing the first summons to collect outstanding e-toll fees within the next two weeks.

Engineering News reported that ETC CEO Jamie Surkont said “there is an obligation to collect the debt and that is what we are going to do”.

ETC COO Mark Ridgway added that they will focus on “those who wittingly refuse to pay, with so-called non-responders second on the list”.

Htxt reported that “some of those summons will go to the High Court because the amount owed is over R400 000, even after the 60% discount”.

“Other summons will go to the Magistrate’s Court,” Ridgway is quoted as saying by Htxt.

Road users were offered a 60% discount to settle their debt for this period before May 1. They would be able to pay their debt over a six-month period. 

“If you owe R1 000, you would need to pay R400 to get the R600 discount,” noted Ridgway. “If you don’t pay the R400, it would become R1 000 on May 1.” 

“This debt has been ringfenced and we are in the process of collecting it,” he added. He said ETC would not wait for May 1 to pursue those who had clearly indicated that they were not going to settle their accounts. Just less than 520 000 accounts owed 83% of the historic debt, which was R5.2-billion.

 One transport company owed R26-million, which was ETC’s biggest outstanding debt. However, the average monthly historic toll debt was less than R90 a month, said Ridgway. Already there had been some success with the historic debt drive, with five of the ETC’s top ten debtors indicating that they would settle their bills, which varied between R5-million and R25-million. 

It was a challenge to collect a “bubble of debt” that was two-and-a-half years old, admitted Surkont, with the long wait to pursue debtors making “it more onerous than necessary”. 

Ridgway hoped not to implement another discount programme in future. Surkont believed a second programme would create a belief with road users that “they could manage their noncompliance”. 

He said continued nonpayment could impact on Sanral’s and government’s standing with ratings agencies, as well as on Sanral’s sustainability. Also, the debt would have to be recovered some way or the other, with the tax payer remaining the responsible party. 

Surkont said indications were that government had decided that the user-pay principle was here to stay and that it would not turn back from the debt collection process, despite this being an election year.