Govt to appeal e-tolls ruling

2012-05-17 08:48

Government will appeal a court ruling that temporarily suspended the implementation of e-tolling on Gauteng freeways.

This despite a decision by the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), a government agency responsible for this project, not to appeal last month’s ruling by Judge Bill Prinsloo of the North Gauteng High Court that motorists cannot be made to pay e-tolling until a full hearing on the matter has been concluded.

Briefing the media today after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said Cabinet was still committed to the “user pay principle” and e-tolling as “an efficient mechanism of collection”.

“Defaulting on our debt is simply not an option,” Manyi said.

Manyi said government only received the written judgment late yesterday. Lawyers are studying the judgment and will advise the executive in due course.

While Manyi did not want to go into funding details he said government will take “the necessary steps to ensure Sanral’s financial soundness” pending the outcome of the legal and consultation processes.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who heads a ministerial committee on e-tolling, will brief the media next Thursday about its work and recommendations.

“In this regard the committee chaired by the deputy president is exploring interim measures to assist Sanral in meeting its financial obligation,” Manyi said.

“As a country we need to demonstrate unequivocal commitment to meet all our contractual obligations including repaying the debt incurred in the construction of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme (GFIP)”.

If it were up to government, said Manyi, Gauteng would implement e-tolling by the end of May, after an agreement was reached between the ruling ANC, its alliance partner trade union Cosatu and Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele that implementation be halted for a month.

The court ruling has, however, further delayed implementation.

Manyi said government would continue to consult the public and various organisations on e-tolling, with a view to reaching a constructive outcome.

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