As South African motorists in Johannesburg prepared for the first day of e-tolls, based on the road tolling system implemented by South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), many made last-ditch efforts to register themselves and buy an e-tag. The official website, however, seemed to have buckled under the pressure.
When IT News Africa tried to access the website, it had limited functionality and timed-out on many occasions.
Motorists are required to register and buy an e-tag on the e-tolls website in order to benefit from up to 48% discount on tolled roads.
Drivers who opt not to register or who have not been able to register will pay the full amount levied by the company.
Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona yesterday said that the company is ready for the implementation, and that from an IT perspective, the operation should run smoothly.
During an interview with SABC2, he took the opportunity to encourage road-users to pay for their tolls. “You will need to comply with the signage you see on the roads,” he said.
However motorists have been vocal about their disapproval of the system, with a number of celebrities adding their voice to strong opinions on social network Twitter, with the topic #etolls trending for a second day.
“Cant compare traffic fines to etolls. Traffic fine: u committed an offence. Etoll: u pay because the money was used for corruption elsewhere,” wrote Zelda le Grange, former secretary to Nelson Mandela.
Radio DJ Darren “Whackhead” Simpson tweeted that it would be hilarious if the e-tolls were part of the Nigerian 419 scam syndicate. “Imagine if this E-toll thing is the biggest 419 Scam in History!” he tweeted.
“Wonder how SANRAL get to the 800 000 #eTags sold? Is that registered eTags or stock in stores? Big difference. Not seeing any on windscreens,” wrote 702 Talk Radio’s Aki Anastasiou.
Everyday road users have also taken to the social network offer opinion. “Day one of driving without an e-toll tag. I might be one of the few as most people have caved!,” tweeted Graeme Selvan, while E.C.69Man tweeted “Highways are empty today stuff u #etolls the South Africans have spoken now u will feel the pain of making a South African angry up yours”.
Nick de Bruyne tweeted ”Yeah, everyone hearing about SANRAL’s 800 000 number, dont put it passed them to talk c**p so that you go out and buy as well,” referring to Sanral figure that over 800 000 e-tag have been sold.
National fast-food chain Nandos did not let the opportunity to participate slip by. The company is known for its witty advertising campaigns - often poking fun at celebrity, figureheads or world events. In their latest ad, the company wrote in their familiar font “Sanral, you could gave at least taken the people for dinner first”.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor