Drivers must prove e-toll glitches

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Road users must be able to prove they were not driving in cases where they receive incorrect bills for the controversial e-tolling system.

In light of Johannesburg's notorious billing system for utilities, which, among other issues, overcharges residents, there have been several concerns around billing for e-tolling and what measures motorists can take if they are incorrectly charged.

In response to a parliamentary question last week, transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele said if road users suspect they have been incorrectly charged, they can request evidence of the passages as charged against their account, or view the images related to the passages on the Internet.

“If the road user can prove that he/she was not the driver of the vehicle with the applicable nomination form, the transactions will be moved to the correct driver, or if the vehicle in the images is not his/hers, a representation can be made.”

Avoiding fraud

Addressing the issue of security measures to ensure the banking details of motorists are secure and not open to fraud, the minister said the e-tolling system was designed and implemented to conform to the internationally recognised Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI).

PCI is a set of requirements designed to ensure companies which process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

Ndebele said there are six main requirements for PCI compliance that the e-tolling system adheres to.

The first is to build and maintain a secure network. The e-toll system has multiple firewalls in place to protect cardholder data, and intrusion testing is done on a regular basis to ensure complete network integrity.

The second requirement is to protect cardholder data and this is done by encrypting all transmissions of cardholder data across open or public networks.

The system must maintain a vulnerability management programme. For e-tolling, anti-virus software has been installed and is regularly updated.

The fourth condition is the implementation of robust control measures. Ndebele said this has been done by restricting access to cardholder data by business on a need-to-know basis.

A unique ID is assigned to each user to ensure access and audibility, physical access to cardholder data is restricted and limited to key resources, and e-toll operators are trained to handle sensitive customer data.

The system needs to regularly monitor and test networks as a fifth prerequisite, and lastly, an information security policy must be maintained.

Dismissing duplication

Ndebele also addressed the issue of how the department plans to deal with the use of illegally obtained number plates.

This concern has also been raised by several parties during debates around the system.

In the case of a vehicle not having an e-tag that can be read by the e-toll gantries, the licence plate is flashed and the motorist linked to that plate is charged the toll fee.

However, the problem of licence plate duplication means drivers may be charged for fees they have not incurred.

“In the event that there is only a number plate read, and no tag read (although a tag was allocated to the vehicle), the transaction is flagged. If this problem/mismatch persists, the vehicle is identified as a vehicle of special interest and the registered account holder will be informed,” said the minister.

He added that if a road user picks up a possible duplication error, they must report it as per the process described for incorrect billing.

February deadline

Cabinet in August approved reduced tariffs for e-tolling in Gauteng, which dictate that motorcycles (Class A1) with e-tags will pay 24c/km; light vehicles (Class A2) will pay 40c/km; medium vehicles (Class B) 100c/km; and “longer” vehicles (Class C) 200c/km.

Qualifying commuter taxis (Class A2) and commuter buses (Class B) are completely exempt from the e-toll system.

The reduction for light vehicles without e-tags saw a drop from 66c/km to 58c/km, and from R3.95/km for heavy vehicles without e-tags to R2.95/km.

The system is set to go live in February, despite strong opposition from labour, political parties and citizens.

E-tags are now available at Checkers, Pick n Pay and Shoprite stores, for R50. They are also available from e-toll customer service outlets in shopping malls across Gauteng, consumer centres along the Gauteng e-road, via, or the Sanral Call Centre.

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