For whom the road tolls

2015-08-13 06:00

The City of Cape Town’s long awaited application to the Western Cape High Court for reviewing and setting aside SANRAL’s proposed tolling of portions of the N1 and N2 freeways commenced in court on Tuesday.

Central to the City’s arguments in seeking a court order that will scrap the proposed Winelands Toll Project is the fact that none of the decision makers – the SANRAL Board and the National Ministers of Transport and Environmental Affairs – considered vital information such as the projected costs of the project and the socio-economic impact of tolling on the residents of the Western Cape.

The City’s legal team yesterday presented evidence to court illustrating that the projected costs of the Winelands Toll Project escalated from R1,653 billion in March 2000 to R44,970 billion in March 2010 (2010 values, excl. VAT).

This equals an increase of 2 620% over a period of 10 years and was never presented to or considered by the decision-makers. We argued that none of this evidence was available to the decision-makers and that it was a grave omission, given that that the colossal figures ultimately address the considerations about the viability of the Winelands Toll Project and the question of where the money to fund this project will come from.

It is the City’s view that this evidence should have been considered for a proper decision to be made.

We further argued that the SANRAL Board failed to consider the proposal to toll the N1 and N2 as is required by the SANRAL Act. Thus far, SANRAL could not present any evidence that such a decision was taken.

There is no record – neither in the form of an agenda and minutes of meetings, nor a resolution – that the SANRAL Board considered and decided to declare portions of the N1 and N2 freeways as toll roads. Furthermore, in his memorandum to the 2014 board, Nazir Alli – Chief Executive Officer of SANRAL – stated that a resolution of the board was inadvertently omittted in the process to declare the said highways as toll roads, effectively confirming the City’s argument that such a resolution was not considered at all by the previous board. The City was due to continue with its opening arguments in the court on Wednesday

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