Truth about e-tolling ‘will now come out’

2012-04-30 00:00

THE skeletons that have been hiding in the e-tolling system cupboard for years may possibly climb out of it during the review of the system later this year.

Pieter Conradie, a member of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), said yesterday that all documents and communication regarding decisions about the e-tolling system and tariffs should now be given to Outa.

He said the complete record — including the contracts with Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) the company that will collect the toll money — has already been requested from the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) and the minister of transport.

“If the record is supplied, both parties are to be given the opportunity to comment on it before a date for the review hearing can be fixed.”

He said that if the government co-operates, and the complete record is supplied, the process could possibly take two to three months.

Conradie said that even if the government were to give notice of a request for leave to appeal the judgment handed down by Judge Bill Prinsloo on Saturday, it would not affect the review hearing.

“The review will go ahead. What could happen if an appeal is approved is that e-tolling will come into effect, while the review application continues.” Prinsloo granted Outa’s application for an interdict to stop tolling on Gauteng’s highways pending the application for a full review of the project, which could possibly lead to the scrapping of the e-tolling system.

In his judgment he found that there are no alternative public transport options for Gauteng motorists.

He compared the burden of the ordinary user with that of the government.

Sanral and the treasury argued that Sanral, which owes about R20 billion, would lose more than R200 million. The government has guaranteed the R20 billion, which would have to be recovered from the Treasury.

While Prinsloo took into account the financial pressure on Sanral and the government he said the many thousands of residents who would also be negatively affected by the system cannot be ignored, especially given the enormous public opposition to it.

Wayne Duvenage and other members of Outa described the judgment as a victory for South Africans.

Following the judgment, Conradie said, “The judgment will hopefully remind the government that it exists to serve the people and not the other way around.” Sanral CEO Nazir Alli would not comment. Transport Department spokesperson Tiyane Rikhotso could not answer any questions about how the debt would be repaid.

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