well this is one of those posts that might well attract the abusive sought; the type who here is a "free thinker" just so long as there is someone around to tell them what to think freely of.
over here this whole etag/toll road thing has commenced in full. many people are very upset about this, but we will get to that later. up front, should this attract the angry types but not that it will stop them, i would not describe myself as happy about them at all, either, but i just happen to accept they were inevitable, since we all tacitly agreed to them and have been very, very happy with why they are in place.
anyway, for the sensible, and the curious from here who now live far, far away, i was quite excited about this whole etoll thing going live, since it meant i could give mine a run at last, somewhere over a year (i think) after i bought it.
as it was reported that it makes a sort of "beep" thing when you go through one, i thought why not video it for you all?
erm, if your ears are better than mine and you heard a beep, let me know. i did not, and was very disappointed about that. maybe it's a silent beep, or maybe my one is knacked or something.
i am not really too worried about the ones who are offended about the idea of me having an etag, for they are rather easily ignored or deleted. i do, however, worry about you out there that for some reason get quite upset when there are not many pictures on my posts, so here's a load of random images of a storm building up this afternoon.
anyway, with no beep thingie, i called the people who do these tags. it was a model of efficiency, the kind of which you only get from proper, well run services with a big budget. those who think that because it's a South African run organization it will be inefficient and no one will ever be billed, i think they are in for quite a surprise.
as it turned out my device was working and was charged. many people who have gone on to the web to check if their unregistered car has been billed for going through one of these tolls has discovered that the system can indeed identify them.
big things cost big money. if you throw little money at it nothing gets done. by means of comparison, i needed to call Johannesburg Connect today, on their shiny new number of 0860 56 28 74. we had no water, you see, and it appeared that the whole area was out. there were no notices or comments about this, and the recording of which areas were without water did not feature us.
i spent in excess of one hour on hold to the water people, only to be told that they were aware of the problem and it was getting fixed.
sanral have telephone and service at the levels most expect, demand and want here. you get what you pay for, and when it comes to services like water, electricity and what have you they are full of people with few skills and little pay.
moving on, and why exactly it is the case i have no problem with this toll business, despite of course like anyone i would prefer not to. a history lesson, if you like, and some reminders.
the reason we have toll roads now stems from a brilliant decision in the early 2000s. then President, in title if not in action, Thabo Mbeki was made aware of the urgent need for two things - new power stations and new roads. The freedom which had come to the country meant more resources were being used. without new power stations, he was told, the nation would face blackouts. without new roads, in particular two new ones going from South Johannesburg to North Pretoria, the economic hub of the country would be gridlocked.
showing off the short-term thinking which characterised his "leadership", and perhaps illustrating why no less a person that Mr Nelson Mandela is reported to have pleaded with the powers that be not to let him be President, Mbeki ditched all plans to build power stations and roads, considering them to be too expensive. yes, we know, we are paying the price now.
on that note, i heard on the news today that "electricity rationing" is going to be brought in here next year. this will presumably be on top of the regular blackouts.
go forward a few years and the predicted gridlock situation hit. by 2005 it took 40 - 60 minutes to travel 1km or 2km on a filter road to get on the highway; in my case 70 - 90 minutes to travel no more than 30kms on the highway. something had to be done.
many attempts to do something happened. this is something that those trying to legally stop the tolls quite like to forget about, not mention, understate or simply deny, in particular with the pretty videos they make and post on that youtube thing.
for about a year, all sorts of things were tried. the emergency lanes (hard shoulders) were opened to traffic. high occupancy vehicle lanes were created in the hope of people making carpools. in the most impressive effort to do something, tens of thousands of leaflets were printed. the leaflets contained questionnaires. the Government hoped to pool the data from these and set up suggestions for car pools, as well as using the data to approach companies and look at flexitime hours to spread the traffic load.
people walked amongst the traffic jams at highway onramps offering these to motorists. i believe less than 30 were filled in and returned. the majority of people who refused to take the leaflet and fill it in to try and fix the traffic are mostly those complaining that they are paying tolls for the fixed roads.
a last ditch effort was made to do something. full page, basic-worded adverts were put in all newspapers, appealing for suggestions and ideas. they were not, as outa have tried to make out (and interestingly have never illustrated), "small, badly worded ads". as next to no response was generated, the decision was taken to build toll roads to fix the problem.
this was around 2008. it was never kept secret that they would be toll roads. no one objected at all. at least not until the 11th hour.
why are people complaining? probably because we got the product before we paid. the roads now are superb, most have apparently forgotten what a nightmare they were. it is not unfair or unreasonable to pay for what we have now got in place.
the biggest whiners, of course, are the special kind of dickheads that wish everything you can think of to revolve around them. a particularly special group is the one which takes this route.
for some reason a lot of people live in Pretoria and work in Johannesburg. which is about 70kms (43 miles or so). why? because they say it is cheaper. it is this special type which has caused all the traffic to begin with, and as the road improvements benefit them more than anyone else, well, it takes some brass neck for them to be the most vocal in complaining. this is particularly true when one considers that magnificent train that i like riding on was built mostly for their benefit.
it would be lovely if we didn't have to pay for the roads we needed beyond taxes. to that end, one needs to ask why the genius Mbeki decided it would be "too expensive", yet his Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, was allowed year after year to cut personal and corporate tax in amounts that were trivial to individuals, yet took billions away from the Treasury; money that could have given us as many power stations and roads as we needed. i find it very strange that no one is asking this much.
with all things considered - and considered here are those points which people complaining about tolls now decide to ignore, hopefully out of a sense of shame that they did nothing to stop them when they could - i don't like paying tolls but i most certainly do not object. this puts me in something of a minority.
as an aside, when i have tried to put this view forward in conversations online i have been "accused" of being black (???) and dismissed as either an ANC politician or a sanral employee. such accusations have tended to come from those free thinkers i mentioned at the start.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!