Following Ridgeway’s threats on Monday, in response to questions from Talk Radio 702’s Xolani Gwala, of vehicle listings and summonses for e-Toll debt, I found rather amusing his suggestion that vehicle traders have expressed interest in a list of the vehicles that have outstanding e-toll debt. Or that this information has any meaning within the used vehicle industry, for that matter.
Firstly, there is no legal requirement for the existence of such a vehicle listing platform or process that would deny the sale of any vehicle, unless of course this was a list of stolen vehicles, managed firstly by the police, then listed on credible vehicle trading sites. The only credible explanation for this hypothetical need lies in Ridgeway’s imagination that that the used vehicle trading industry would be in real need of such irrelevant information.
Well, let’s unpack that, shall we?
It is common knowledge that complaints against SANRAL (or rather ETC’s) incorrect billing problems, have exposed a cumbersome dispute resolution processes which is onerous and extremely time consuming. We know of thousands of complaints that take months to resolve, if indeed they are ever resolved at all in many instances. Used car trading, on the other hand, happens within hours. So, as far as Mr Ridgeway’s imaginary vehicle listings go, they will never be practical or applicable. It will kill a fluid process that has no need for irrelevant intervention.
Furthermore, if these so called lists of vehicles with outstanding e-toll bills are ever introduced, OUTA in conjunction with the public, will publicize and steer the trading of used vehicles to those traders who have no need to consult such vehicle lists. These rational traders believe, as do the majority of the road users, that e-toll debt is not a debt worthy of their attention, and trade on unhindered they will. The corollary will also come into play, that being the publicising of those companies who feel it necessary to impede the vehicle trading process with the unnecessary and irrelevant information of outstanding e-Toll bills.
It is important to know that OUTA has received complaints from many used vehicle traders, regarding the erroneous and illegal billing by ETC for e-toll bills linked to sold vehicles, whose new owners are using the 21-day grace period to license the vehicle in their name. The bill of course, simply defaults to the last owner – just another one of many flaws in the system. It’s already a nightmare and while Mr Ridgeway may think his vehicle listing process will be a solution to this problem, the problem itself is invented, so it won’t fly in the first place. Fortunately for those dealerships and fleet-based companies who have made contact with OUTA, once they understand their rights and how their cases will be defended if summonsed for non-payment of e-toll bills, they simply join OUTA’s campaign and sleep better at night. These same companies were also able to release those unpaid e-toll provisions and profits have been looking good lately.
It ultimately all comes down to this perceived e-Toll debt that Mr Ridgeway and his ITC Business Administrator (collection agents) speak of. It never ceases to amaze me how deaf are those who refuse to listen. In this case, it’s about listening to an argument that outstanding e-toll bills are not a debt. Certainly not in the eyes of over two million Gauteng freeway users who have not signed any deal or contract with SANRAL. Certainly not in the eyes of thousands who have cancelled their past contracts that were entered into under duress.
These road users are in fact the courageous citizens who have decided to express their disgust and defiance in the form of justified civil disobedience campaign, on the basis that they either (1) know their constitutional rights, or (2) they rightly couldn’t give a damn about the introduction of an irrational, inefficient and costly road tax. In either case, their rights will be defended through the introduction of collateral challenge that will introduce a multitude of arguments and hard facts to expose the illegality of the e-toll decision. All we are waiting for is the summons that Mr Ridgeway and SANRAL have threatened for years now and we’re not shrinking away. In fact every year, we – along with the help of SANRAL and ETC – add more arrows to our, now bulging quiver of defence.
In short, Mr Ridgeway, you may claim that e-toll defiance is an action in contravention of the law. We say not at all, on the basis that a law is not worth the paper it is written on; it is grossly unjustified, irrational and introduced in contravention of our constitutional rights. In such an instance, the public have not only a right, but a moral obligation to defy that law, and they will remain innocent until proven guilty. It is important to know that it matters first for those in power, to behave themselves within the law and the values of our hard won constitution, before they expect their citizens to follow their instructions.
I sincerely hope and trust that Mr Ridgeway and the toothless ITC Business Administrator debt collection company will now start to realize that their threats and harassment tactics are now falling on deaf ears. The rhetoric and hype – which appears to be aimed at generating business opportunities linked to vehicle listings and commissions for collection agencies – is waning, just as it does those who learn to stand clear of last kicks of a dying ‘e-toll’ horse. So plod on your merry way. Feel free to list us and paste these lists wherever you feel it is befitting or necessary to do so. We will not allow them to interfere with the lives and dealing of millions of vehicle owners in South Africa. DM