Mistake for govt to ‘steam ahead’ with e-tolls – Vavi

2012-09-20 09:57

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has warned government not to use the Constitutional Court ruling on e-tolls as an excuse to implement its unpopular decision to levy a toll on Gauteng freeways.

The country’s highest court lifted the temporary stay on e-tolling, which means the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) can, in principle, implement e-tolling while the North Gauteng High Court continues to hear the dispute on the matter.

The High Court temporarily interdicted e-tolling earlier this year. The court action was brought by the Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa).

Government wanted road users to pay for the R20-billion debt it incurred during the revamp and improvement of Gauteng’s freeway, and the tolling was initially scheduled to start at the beginning of April.

The Cabinet was unhappy that the high court ruling had interfered with the executive’s powers to make and implement policy, and took the matter to the Constitutional Court.

Vavi said consultations with a Cabinet-appointed e-tolling task team, which is chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, would continue. The task team has since produced an interim report.

He said it would be a mistake for the Tripartite Alliance to ignore the report’s recommendations.

“Cosatu remains absolutely determined to oppose e-tolls in the streets. We are saying to workers don’t drop your guard.

“We are opposed to the highways being privatised. We insist that there must be alternative means of paying for the R20-billion,” he said.

Vavi also said it would be a mistake for the government to “steam ahead” with the implementation of the tolls.

He said the federation’s campaign for a “Lula moment” – which is the federation’s push for economic growth, job creation and fighting corruption – included opposing attempts to toll urban roads in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance expressed disappointment with the court ruling.

DA Gauteng caucus leader Jack Bloom said his party was certain that the High Court case on the merits of e-tolling, to be heard in November, would be successful.

“Sanral will find it difficult to implement the e-tolls in the face of widespread opposition,” he said.

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