How eTags and road tolling probe “moral” trade-offs behind a truck

It is more important to pay the real price of services, infrastructure and facilities now in order to avoid the higher cost in future. This is exactly the same experience on a highway along which most people do not have eTags, and they sometimes need to queue up in order to pass the gantry. While those who have eTags that are paid up can simply keep right and pass through without delay.


The future of transport infrastructure is dynamic with both both penalties and incentives. Penalties like a price charged for using the infrastructure are largely used to maintain, refurbish and add value to the infrastructure. Incentives include benefits derived from complying with the charge, which could take the form good quality roads, and no waiting times at tolls. When more dynamic approaches are operationalised, they involve improvements in information technology and monitoring techniques. For instance distance based charges proposed by the team at the University of Stellenbosch requires integrating technologies and systems that already exist with road users and the fiscus. Along highways, and some urban roads, road tolling schemes are going to be crucial for funding and managing roadways for all forms of traffic. All users need to install the eTag or any other form of identification and payment for these solutions to work. One of the main reasons why public sector struggles with providing a broad array of services has to do with the extent to which facilities that users are able and willing to pay for are still funded like charity cases. This takes away much needed funds from other core services and facilities that are increasingly more costly as the population grows.

If you’re reading this without an eTag or you believe that eTolling is a waste of public funds then ask yourself how much more tax everyone should pay for a km only a few use, compared to the healthcare services which we all need.

One of the major limitations to this tolling future is not the extent to which new and old ideas are implemented, but the cost delaying implementation. South African politicians and many mayors have a tendency of delaying much needed but invisible interventions because they are difficult to brag about in rallies. Even if Gauteng for instance needs to begin to allow more concessions to operate and maintain roads in order to generate more revenue and free capacity to deal with other pressing issues no one is interested. Few households are willing to pay now to save later, because no political narrative describes the benefits of acting now.

It is more important to pay the real price of services, infrastructure and facilities now in order to avoid the higher cost in future. This is exactly the same experience on a highway along which most people do not have eTags, and they sometimes need to queue up in order to pass the gantry. While those who have eTags that are paid up can simply keep right and pass through without delay. It’s a small price to pay for the difference between driving behind a truck for 20 minutes and getting through without much delay over a three-four trip. Paying the real price on a national scale could get us out of many of the challenges we face now, without politicians politicizing everything– even our priorities. To get anywhere, a new horizon, a new territory there is a price to pay. We are most certainly well past the welfare state and households need to sympathize with public sector under reform while getting ahead of the curve. If you’re reading this without an eTag or you believe that eTolling is a waste of public funds then ask yourself how much more tax everyone should pay for a km only a few use, compared to the healthcare services which we all need. It’s okay not to agree though, but keep that line of thinking behind the truck.

*Opinions.

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