Cape Town set for tolling showdown with Sanral

Cape Town - A long-awaited showdown between the City of Cape Town and Sanral is set to take place in court over proposed tolling in the Western Cape.

The city is approaching the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday to have Sanral's decision to toll sections of the N1 and N2 set aside.

Democratic Alliance provincial deputy leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and other party members are set to picket outside the building in Keerom Street to oppose the tolling scheme.

About 180km of highway will be tolled should the Winelands Toll Highway project go ahead.

Transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron said on Monday that the application could be regarded as “the trial of the century” because the outcome would have far-reaching consequences for the city’s future.

“It will take all of us who are opposed to the inequity of this scheme to stand together, to voice our objections, and to fight to prevent it,” he said.

“I am of the firm view that the proposed Winelands Toll Scheme is as irrational, reckless and dangerous to our future as the Gauteng e-tolls scheme was and is.”

Tariffs not set

Last month, the SA National Roads Agency CEO Nazir Alli told the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the benefits of the proposed project would far outweigh the cost to road users.

Alli emphasised that, while the initial bid was unsolicited, Sanral went through a rigorous and competitive tender process to get to a stage where there was a preferred bidder.

“But the process is far from concluded, and the final costing still has to be determined. While the City of Cape Town in the past was at pains to point out what it would cost road users to travel on the planned toll roads, tariffs had not been set and whatever numbers are bandied about are pure speculation,” said Alli.

The minister of transport will set the final toll tariffs, he said.

Alli pointed out that the "user pay" principle for tolled roads was firmly entrenched as part of Government policy.

Herron said the city’s legal case was complex and ran into thousands of pages of reports and documents.

Impact

Essentially, it would argue that the transport minister at the time’s decision to declare the highways as toll roads was unlawful because he failed to consider the merits and impacts of tolling.

It would also argue that the then-national environmental affairs minister’s decision to provide environmental authorisation for tolling did not consider the socio-economic impact and was thus unlawful.

The city is concerned about the impact the tolls would have on the economy and its residents.

“The Sanral Board never made the decision to declare the N1 and N2 as toll roads as it was required to do. By implication, we will argue that the decision to toll was made by the CEO of SANRAL who was unauthorised to do so,” Herron said.

Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said in April that it was “totally wrong” to say Alli took the decision on his own as the toll road declaration was made at ministerial level.

Mona also emphasised that the sections of road were deteriorating and that Sanral wanted to start work on the highway as soon as possible.

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