E-toll ambulance woes

E-toll gantry
E-toll gantry

The South African Private Ambulance and Emergency Services Association, which represents numerous private ambulance services operators, has slammed Sanral for insisting that all non-government ambulance services which use Gauteng’s highways must be fitted with an e-tag.

Oliver Wright, CEO of the association, said that private ambulance services would be forced to use alternative routes because their frequent use of the tolled highways on a daily basis would result in exorbitant e-toll costs.

Wright added that using alternative routes would naturally slow down response times because these congested roads are not conducive to high-speed emergency responses.

“Two to three minutes can make a difference between life and death and Sanral has not considered the impact e-tolling will have.”

According to Wright, government emergency services are exempt from e-tolling but all private ambulance services have had to fit e-tags to their vehicles.

Wright said that numerous submissions made by the association, when e-tolling had been gazetted, requesting that private ambulance services also be exempt from e-tolling had been “completely ignored”.

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona disputed that private ambulances were not exempt from e-tolling.

“Qualifying private ambulances are exempt for the payment of tolls on the Gauteng e-roads. However, as part of the exemption process these ambulances would need to obtain an e-tag, register and apply for the exemption,” he said.

But, Mona added, Sanral does not define what a qualifying private ambulance is.

“In terms of Regulation 3 of The Government Gazette no. R.741, on completion of the application wherein you are required to provide particulars of vehicles, as well as the details of the private ambulance operator, etc, you would be a candidate for qualification,” he explained.

Wright added, “It is very strange that both government and private ambulances provide the same services to the community and yet one is exempt and the other is not. If private ambulance services do qualify for exemptions, why do they need to apply [for an e-tag in the first place]?”

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