E-tolling still scheduled to begin on Monday

2012-04-26 19:46
Johannesburg - The ANC and Cosatu will ask the government to delay the Gauteng's e-tolling system by a month, they said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions and African National Congress said they reached an agreement to this effect in a meeting earlier in the day.

"The leadership has collectively agreed to postpone the implementation of the e-toll collection system by a month," they said in a statement.

"This will give the task team more time to explore alternative funding mechanisms."

E-tolling is still scheduled to begin in Gauteng on Monday.

Reactions


The transport department said it would shortly issue a statement in response to the Cosatu and ANC announcement.

The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has not yet responded to requests for its comment on the announcement.

News of the agreement came shortly after the North Gauteng High Court adjourned until Saturday a ruling on an application to stop e-tolling.

"I plan to give judgment at 11:00 on Saturday," Judge Bill Prinsloo said on Friday. "The matter stands until then."

The civil society coalition, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), has brought court action to prevent Sanral from introducing e-tolling as planned.

Earlier, Treasury lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett told the High Court that if an interdict preventing e-tolling was granted, it could be in effect for the rest of the year.

"If the interdict is granted, in all legal reality, it must stand until the end of litigation, which would not be set to end any time soon... maybe until the end of the year," Gauntlett said.

Debt

This was because of the time required for the review, and further court hearings and appeals.

He said that if Sanral defaulted on one month of its payment, the government would have to pay its entire debt.

"It does not mean that government would not be able to meet it [the debt], it has to, but at what cost? For this country to sustain R20bn in unbudgeted capital is a serious matter," Gauntlett said.

He said the government would have to neglect other social and economic obligations to pay off the debt.

"The milk has been spilt with regards to the roads, and people are using them. The issue now is how to pay for them. It has to be paid for. You can say you don't like it, but you can't say that it is irrational."

He said the previous four delays to the e-toll system had come at a "great cost".

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters on Thursday that the entire central executive committee of Cosatu was united against e-tolling.

"There is not a single dissenting voice," he said.

Highway blockade going ahead

He said e-tolls would represent a huge additional burden on all motorists, particularly workers who had no choice but to use cars to get to and from work because of a lack of reliable and safe public transport.

Cosatu has postponed a general strike against e-tolling planned for Monday.

The delay would give it time to assess the success of resistance to e-tolling, and any future legal action.

Other mass action planned for Monday, including a highway blockade in Johannesburg, would go ahead, Vavi said,

Speaking after a special meeting of Cosatu's executive, Vavi said the blockade of four tollgates at Middelburg and Nkomazi, in Mpumulanga, would form part of the mass action on Monday.

In the North West, a demonstration was being planned at Swartruggens plaza.

On Tuesday, a march would take place from the May Day rally at Good Hope Centre to the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

Vavi said Cosatu's executive was opposed to what he described as the "commodification" of South Africa's public road network.
- SAPA
Read more on:    cosatu  |  anc  |  outa  |  sanral  |  transport  |  tolls
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