E-tolls: ‘It’s in your hands’

2013-10-10 13:13

Whether the controversial e-tolling system survives may be in the hands of the Gauteng public, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has said.

This comes after yesterday’s Supreme Court of Appeal ruling, which dismissed Outa’s application to have a North Gauteng High Court judgment overruled.

Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage admitted defeat in the Supreme Court of Appeal matter, but said a decision on whether Outa will go to the Constitutional Court will only be taken at a board meeting next Monday.

He cited legal costs as the major stumbling block to going to court and said approaching the Constitutional Court to deem e-tolling “unlawful” would cost more than R1.5 million.

Monday’s meeting will not, he said, lead to the end of Outa even if the organisation decides not to go to the Constitutional Court.

Duvenage said Outa would probably be reconstituted to carry on as a public platform for raising issues which will arise when e-tolling is enforced.

But Outa was clear that the success of e-tolling depended on individual motorists, whom Duvenage urged not to buy e-tags.

Duvenage was addressing the media in Sandton this morning.

Duvenage said he hoped another organisation or individual could approach Outa to fund the case if the public funding campaigning did not materialise.

“It may not be up to society whether e-tolling survives or not. Sanral’s Achilles heel may be their blind obsession to force e-tolling on motorists.

“It has been proven around the world where e-tolling had been used, like in Portugal, that where there is non-compliance by motorists, the system collapses,” said Duvenage, urging motorists not to purchase e-tags. He said it was not illegal not to own an e-tag.

While it is unclear what the current level of compliance is, Sanral had said that 600 000 of Gauteng’s nearly 3 million motorists have acquired e-tags so far.

The SA Council of Churches, meanwhile, said government had negotiated in bad faith with religious leaders by gazetting tariffs for public comment while discussions were ongoing.

The SACC said in a statement read out at the press conference that it viewed government and Sanral’s insistence on e-tolling as a “moral injustice” because other methods to fund public roads, such as a fuel levy, were never considered.

“We urge everyone to focus on a peaceful way to resolve this matter and, even at this late stage, we urge government to rethink its approach,” the SACC said in its statement.

Duvenage said another option to fight the e-tolling system was for individual motorists to argue in court on the grounds of “collateral damage” by using Outa’s arguments if or when Sanral takes them to court for non-payment.

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