{Diary of a Gauteng Resident} An etoll tale…

So, as many other Gauteng residents, I have received my first etoll bills…

I was still living in Grahamstown when I first about this ‘etoll’ business, it didn’t impact on my Grahamstown bubble at the time and then it was delayed, so I forgot about it. Then came 2013 and my move to Johannesburg, where I went under my first gantry. Now South Africans are not stupid, and to me it was clear as day that those damn things have most definitely not been built cost effectively. So there was my (and many others) first issue with this, regardless of whether or not I believe in the ‘user pays’ principle, I am not going to pay more because Sanral and the Department of Transport are cost-inefficient and erect first world gantries in a third world country, at a first world expense. Secondly, there is the issue that a foreign company will be making the profits from running this system. The government’s excuse that this is due to a lack of local capabilities does not wash with me, we are a developing country, so lets develop those capabilities! And I could carry on, but rather let’s have a look at how ‘efficiently’ Sanral is now running the show.

I was very cynical and sceptical about this etoll business from the start. I don’t see the government and Sanral being able to properly run and enforce such a system on a public that has clearly voiced their disagreement to this…plus considering government’s other inefficiencies I did rather hope it would spread to this, and their bullying of the Gauteng public foiled… and so that fact that they have screwed up, as I predicted, does give me some degree of satisfaction if I am to be honest.

Here is my etoll bill.

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Here are my issues:

1. According to the etoll calculator, without registering for an etag, as a light passenger vehicle, my first toll charge should have come to 10.45 BOTH WAYS discounted by 2.71 as it was December 16th and thus a public holiday. Instead it is R13.41 and R19.14 with no public holiday discounts, higher then if I was a non-registered user in a ‘light heavy vehicle’ (i.e. small trucks) (I should also insert here that the types of vehicles are determined by length, according to the etoll website, and my car is a VW Polo Hatchback…)

2. I wasn’t in Joburg on the 19th December as the December 16th trip had been to the airport, and yet apparently my car was on the N1 near Beccleuch (which I live no where near) late on the night of the 19th, and I have again been charged higher than listed rates.

3. My car is registered to Grahamstown and thus the bill only reached there AFTER the date after which penalties are threatened…

So today I phoned the Sanral customer care line (0800 726725, you have to phone more than once as the first time I was told the number didn’t exist, even though it does…) and my conversation went something like this:

(after they check the bill reference number and your car details)

‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “Your bill comes to R127.76″

Me: “Um, the copy I have only says R101.67″

‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “…” (silence)

Me: “Anyway, that’s not why I called, I have some problems with the amounts charged”

‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “If you are not a registered user you will be charged double”

Me: “Ok, but when I use your etoll calculator as a nonregistered user, my amounts should still be a lot lower”

‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “Have you registered?”

Me: (keeping patient) “No”

‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “Oh, then you are charged triple per trip”

Me: (now somewhat incredulous and humouring this woman) “Ok, but these amounts are still higher than that”

‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “Then you must write it out in an email and send it to info@sa-etol.co.za”

Me: “Um, ok, thanks”

–End of most amazing conversation ever–

So I sent off an email. I got this automated response:

“Dear Marie

Please find correspondence attached regarding your e-toll account.

You may contact us on 0800 SANRAL (726 725) or www.sanral.co.za should you require any further assistance or have difficulty viewing the attachment.

We thank you for your patronage and continued support.

Regards

e-toll”

We’ll see where that goes. e-toll.

So, Sanral, your move, I am not paying this amount, and I am not buying an etag, I don’t condone bullying.

And the moral of the story is, check that bill before paying it, there may be more than one inaccuracy. And when there is, don’t pay!

{South Africa}…Let’s help Guide Dogs SA

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See this puppy? How cute is he? Now he may just be an excitable farm dog but I am sure that most people know, Labradors and Retrievers also make excellent guide and service dogs. I often see a poster advertising donating R10 to the SA Guide Dogs organisation on my way back from gym, but it’s kind of hard to remember the details and that number when driving (texting and driving is done faaaaar too often in Jhb!). So when I stumbled upon this tweet today, I thought I would share it with everyone. Because everyone reads this blog. Obvs.SA Guide dogs

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With Whatsapp, BBM and so on, R10 of airtime is such a small amount but can make such a difference to this, and many other, organisation, so no more excuses now!

If your interest is sparked as mine was, here it the link to the SA Guide Dogs website. I am really impressed with it, especially the mix between the technical information and the personal stories, bringing the reality to life for the reader, my favourite are the doggy diary entries!

Anyway, spare two seconds and R10 and pop off an sms :)

{A Wedding} in June…Part Four

JR Wedding

So I started this series months ago, and apparently forgot to finish it! Click the number for parts 1, 2 or 3. The next lot of photos are from the ceremony itself and some pre-dinner festivities. Rather than have people waiting through speeches absolutely starving, especially with some alcohol hitting an empty stomach, there are a ‘cheese’ cake – like a tower of cheese formed to look like a cake, surrounded by nuts, crackers and all kinds of other snacks. The beauty of this is that while family photos were being taken, people could fill up their growling tummies a bit and the ‘snack table’ lasted long into the night, there for anyone who got a bit peckish.

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{Joburg Adventures}…Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City

Visiting Gold Reef City is a rite of passage in Joburg. The first ‘theme park’ I ever went to was Ratanga Junction which I visited as a kid, but I really enjoyed my ‘adult’ Gold Reef experience. Maybe because I am the history nerd that I am but there is a charm to Gold Reef City that Ratanga doesn’t have. This is due to the way the park has incorporated the history of Joburg’s beginnings into everything from the decor, rides and restaurants. Its a theme park so the cheese factor is high, but all things considered I think it is done pretty well.

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It is definitely one of those activities that you need a full day to do. And it won’t break the bank either. Though do be warned that there will be queues! We avoided as many as possible by skipping to rides with smaller queues and then doubling back to see if the queues were shorter…sometimes they were…sometimes they weren’t…c’est la vie!

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Go to the Gold Reef City website here to check opening times, directions and the rest. I would recommend taking a change of clothes, especially if you have kids, or if it is a hot day, those water rides are too tempting to resist when the sun has been baking down for hours!

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There were four of us on this Gold Reef Adventure. It was a great day to get back in touch with the inner child, enjoy Jhb sunshine and get the adrenaline going again. Also, side-note, girls, water-proof mascara is advisable, those water rides are sneaky! #lessonlearnt

Here are the rest of the photos from our Gold Reef City Adventure!

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Hello 2014!

2014

I don’t really do New Years Resolutions, firstly because as the year goes on something that seemed so super important in January is no longer as relevant in August, and secondly, because I don’t want to start the year with the pressure. So instead of resolutions, I have decided on some basic goals instead:

1. Learn how to use my DSLR in manual. I have dabbled but usually opt for my comfort zone of Aperture, it is now the time to focus on that manual mode.

2. Be more patient. One day, hopefully I will have achieved more of the things I aspire to, like earning enough to save a decent amount each month/actually contemplate grown-up-adult-life-expenses such as a bond or new car, until then, I like my flat, I still love my car and am enjoying the non-monetary aspects of my job so far. I have been in Joburg-land for a year, and I have many more to explore the area/make more friends/make more memories.

3. Take more photos. Yup, cause I honestly really don’t think I take enough, or at least I didn’t in 2013, so that needs to change!

4. Find ‘me’ again. 2013 was hard. It was long. At times it was quite brutal. But it wasn’t all bad, and it didn’t all hurt. I think I lost myself for a while, getting too bogged down in the crappy things that happened, so bogged down that I forgot to really appreaciate the good things, including myself, my strengths and my abilities. So in 2014 I am going to focus on what I can do well, not on what I can’t. I am going to take pleasure in just being me, not obsess about what I may not be.

5. Decorate the flat. In December 2013 I moved into a new flat with the boyfriend. New life experience for me in many ways. I want our flat to reflect this new life experience, reflect that we live there together, reflect that we are in a flat in Jhb not a digs in Grahamstown, and reflect us. I also want to tap more into my creative side this year and am hoping to do some of that through the flat decorating process.

6. Keep fit. Ok so this could be a big goal like go to gym 5 times a week or lose those extra 2 kgs I always moan about. But, well, I also want to enjoy the year, and I want to avoid making myself miserable by obsessing over times I overate or that day I missed gym etc. Life is about balance, right?

7. Bake more. What a nice contradiction with number 6 :) The thing is, I have always loved baking, but I’ve gotten rather lazy about it over the last two years. A big problem is finding people to eat the baked goods, before I consume them myself and have an extra 5 kgs to lose… So this is a problem I will need to solve, and then bake some new recipes for a change :)

8. Be a tourist in Johannesburg. I have been here for a year now, and there is definitely a lot I could have done last year that I did not do…therefore I will just need to jump onto the tourism wagon in 2014:)

And so I leave you with the quote below, a summary of some of my goals, if you will.

Life Drama