SARF welcomes e-tolling decision

By Drum Digital
21 September 2012

The SA Road Federation (SARF) on Thursday welcomed the ruling by Constitutional Court to lift the hold on the introduction of e-tolling in Gauteng.

"SARF has long contended that tolling is an integral part of a mixed-financing approach towards the provision of the country's much needed road network and that in metropolitan areas the only way to implement this philosophy is through electronic recognition of motor vehicles," the federation said.

However, the Automobile Association (AA) vowed to fight the introduction of e-tolling.

"We remain committed to fight e-tolling in Gauteng and we continue to urge our members to not register for e-tags, as we still believe in an equitable solution.

"This ruling shows little consideration for the serious impact that tolling will have on the already financially stretched consumer and the added cost to business in the province," AA public affairs head Gary Ronald said after the judgment.

The court ruled earlier in the day that an interim order granted by the High Court in Pretoria on April 28, which put a hold on the project, be set aside.

It concluded that the high court had not considered the separation of powers between the high court and the executive.

The government said it would study the judgment and make an announcement soon on the way forward.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) was adamant that there would be no tolling on Gauteng's freeways.

"We are going to resist it with every power we have," Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters on the sidelines of Cosatu's 11th national congress in Midrand.

"In our view, it would be a huge mistake by government if it was to steam ahead on the basis of the Constitutional Court judgment and implement what we all know is an extremely unpopular policy decision," Vavi said.

The ANC Youth League said it remained "vehemently" opposed to the e-tolling system.

"The tolls are simply unjustifiably expensive for all commuters and totally unaffordable to the working class, the poor and young people," it said.

The African Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Front Plus expressed disappointment at the ruling.

"[The] ruling has huge implications for citizens wishing to challenge the way government spends taxpayers' money," ACDP MP Steve Swart said in a statement.

FFPlus parliamentary spokesman Anton Alberts said the actual problem had not been addressed.

"On a strict interpretation of the doctrine of the separation of powers, the Constitutional Court probably gave a correct interpretation of the law, but the actual problem with the enforcement of the e-toll system has not been addressed yet," he said.

SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) chief executive Neren Rau said he was concerned about the impact on the cost to business.

"The [Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project] GFIP must... be economically feasible so that the benefits of using the tolled road exceed the costs.

The African People's Convention was also disappointed at the court's decision.

"We view this as anti-poor and pro-business," spokesman Patrick Sindane said in a statement.

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