Blame game heats up over Sanral toll project

The N1 highway near Randburg in the early hours, after the e-tolls system went live in Gauteng. (Michael Scholtz via Twitter)
The N1 highway near Randburg in the early hours, after the e-tolls system went live in Gauteng. (Michael Scholtz via Twitter)

Cape Town – A blame game has erupted over much-needed maintenance of Cape Town’s national roads, after a court interdict stalled the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) from creating a new tolling system to fund its upgrade and maintenance programme.

The 180km long N1 N2 Winelands Toll Project has been a contentious issue from the start, with Capetonians fearing an expensive e-toll scenario that was developed in Gauteng.

Western Cape High Court presiding Judge Ashley Binns-Ward reserved judgment on 18 August in the City of Cape Town’s bid to have a Sanral decision to toll highways in the Cape set aside.

This week, Brett Herron, the City of Cape Town mayoral committee member responsible for transport, said nothing is stopping Sanral from doing maintenance work along any part of these highways or from installing street lights to improve the safety of those using the roads.
 
However, Sanral slammed this idea on Sunday, saying it was “outrageous, shameful and certainly not in the interests of road users in the Western Cape”.

Court interdict prevents work from proceeding - Sanral

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said much- needed upgrades including the street lighting on the N2, which was to form part of the N1 N2 Winelands Toll Project, could not proceed.   

“Sanral’s plans to upgrade the N1 and N2 - which includes vital infrastructure such as street lighting, a centre median barrier and realignment of the N2 through Somerset West - have for all intents and purposes been halted by the city’s legal action,” said Mona.

Mona said this court interdict prevents any works, which fall under the scope of the N1 N2 Winelands Toll Project, from proceeding. “Why should road users be held at ransom by the City of Cape Town,” questioned Mona.

However, Herron said the process undertaken by Sanral to declare portions of the N1 and N2 as toll roads was improper and unlawful.

Lies and publicity stunts - City of Cape Town

“The residents of the Western Cape will not be fooled by Sanral’s lies and publicity stunts in the hope of justifying this ill-conceived project,” said Herron.

Mona hit back: “There is nothing cheap about this so-called publicity stunt unless one regards human life as cheap.”

The Sanral spokesperson said over the past five years there have been over 10 500 crashes on Cape Town's busiest highways, 528 involving pedestrians and 44% resulting in death. “Sanral spends about R250 000 a month just to fix vandalised fences, while thieves also targeted street lights,” he said.
 
“The question must be asked, how many more lives should be lost. Cape Town is a growing city, with growing traffic demands,” said Mona.

Mona also said that on Saturday all parties agreed to a plan to improve safety on the N2 in view of the increase in criminal activity.

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