While an exact implementation date is yet to be announced, one thing is clear – Gauteng e-tolls are here to stay.
Yesterday, the SA National Roads Agency Ltd gave the media a tour of its state-of-the-art e-toll central operations centre in Midrand to demonstrate how the system will work.
BIG BROTHER BUSY: The e-toll central operation centre in Midrand, where vehicles travelling the highways around Joburg are monitored. CCTV cameras along the roads capture the images of the vehicles, which are then shown here. Picture: Boxer Ngweny. Credit: Independent Newspapers
It all began with the road- side collection system, said Alex van Niekerk, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project project manager.
“The CCTV cameras along the roads capture the images of the vehicles, which are then shown here,” he said, pointing to 16 flat screens. They are mounted on the wall in the intelligent transport system room, which displays real time images of cars on highways.
The operators each have three screens in which they view maps and live footage from the highways.
As a vehicle passes any of the 49 gantries across the province, photographs of the front and rear of the vehicle is taken from cameras on top of the gates, the user’s tag (if any) is read and the information is transferred to the transaction clearing house.
This is where the vehicle’s licence plate is verified. Checks on the e-tag are done, as well as checks on the e-toll account balance, and the account is then debited with a toll fee.
AROUND THE CLOCK
Electronic toll collection chief executive Salahdin Yacoubi said: “We are heavily reliant on technology. The room monitors the gantries and physical security 24/7.”
If a vehicle is found not to have paid at a toll gate, the information is sent to the violation processing centre, where invoices are issued to the vehicle’s owner.
Van Niekerk said that in the past few months, more than 2 million vehicles were monitored on the highways as part of the e-toll tests, and over 500 000 e-tags had already been distributed.
“Over 10 000 motorists are already using their e-toll accounts to pay their tolls at the Bakwena electronic tolling facilities on sections of the N1 and N4 highways,” he added.
MASS ACTION PLANNED
Yesterday, Cosatu reiterated its call to motorists to boycott the tolls and not register with Sanral or buy e-tags. It urged its members to remain mobilised for “a campaign of mass action if e-tolling is not scrapped”.
“It will not just affect the people of Gauteng, as the government has now conceded that e-tolling will replace the existing toll gates throughout the country,” said Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven. -The Star