Toll application '4 years too late'
Pretoria - Opponents to Gauteng's tolling system were four years too late in bringing their court action, the North Gauteng High Court heard on Tuesday.
"I know of no other case where four years after the event the applicants come along and try to invoke the court's power," said David Unterhalter, for the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).
The applicants, who include the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), had created their own urgency, he said.
"Those who sit back and wait for whatever reason have to suffer the consequences."
Unterhalter said they would still have their day in court, but it would just be at another time.
The toll roads were declared in 2008.
He was presenting argument to the court on why the application should not be seen as urgent, and asked for it to be dismissed.
It was a "fantastical proposition" for Outa to argue that because it was only formed in March 2012, it should bring court action at this stage. The body was made up of different members, including the Automobile Association.
Litigation had to be done at a reasonable time, which was 180 days after the declaration of the toll roads, said Unterhalter.
He said the applicants knew that tolling was decided on as the preferred means to raise funding for Gauteng's freeway improvement project, after other options had been considered. Only the issue of tariffs was up for discussion.
On February 4, 2011 the first notice announcing the tariffs was published.
This was followed by a huge public outcry and a steering committee was established by government to review the fees.
"The only issue on the table was the fee structure... not the user pays principle," said Unterhalter.
Vincent Maleka, for the transport minister and the Gauteng transport MEC, would present his case after lunch
Earlier, a Treasury lawyer said concerns about who is exempted from Gauteng's tolls are a "small tail wagging a large dog".
Arguments by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), in a supplementary affidavit filed on Saturday, that no provision had been made for toll exemptions, were a "small tail wagging a particularly large dog, which is this case", Jeremy Gauntlett SC told the court.
He said the respondents, including the transport minister and Sanral, were prejudiced by the approach of Outa and other applicants.
"They are trying to raise these additional points now on a tacit premise... that it's urgent."
Outa is arguing, in its supplementary affidavit, that tolling could not proceed on April 30 because no exemptions had been made for public transport.
The court denied an application by Outa to amend its founding affidavit.
Judge Bill Prinsloo said the respondents opposing the application were prejudiced and were not given the proper time to consider the amendments.
"(They) may not be properly able to consider the amendments during this session, especially because we only have a three-day court week," he told the court.
"In the face of this prejudice... I make the following order that the application for amendment is struck from the roll."
Prinsloo said the applicants had to pay the "wasted" costs.
The applicants were Outa and three others.
The broader application continued, with the court hearing argument about its urgency.