Everyone but govt upset over e-tolls

Sep 20 2012 14:40

Johannesburg - The Automobile Association vowed on Thursday to fight the introduction of e-tolling in Gauteng after a Constitutional Court ruling that lifted a hold on its introduction.

"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," said Gary Ronald, head of public affairs at the AA, following Thursday's judgment.

"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," he said.

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 high court and executive.

Earlier, 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.

Meanwhile the government welcomed the ruling.

"The ruling reaffirms government's conviction that the North (Gauteng) High Court had erred in its judgement which interferes with policy making, a responsibility of the executive," a statement following Thursday's ruling said.

"Government respects the right of any member of the public to approach the courts to review its decisions and operations within the country's legal framework," the statement from Transport Department Director General George Mahlalala said.

"Government remains convinced about the appropriateness of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), with the user-pay principle as part of our country's investment in road infrastructure and our collective drive to grow the economy," he said.

The development of a country's road infrastructure played a critical role in building its economy and sustaining its growth by facilitating the movement of goods and services across the country.

Government would study the judgment and make an announcement on the way forward soon.

Outa leader Wayne Duvenage said it wouldn't be possible for the government to start tolling "tomorrow" because there were still outstanding issues to be dealt with.

"They can't start e-tolling tomorrow," he said.

The issues include tariff exemptions and other work to get the project up and running again.

The actual review hearing will take place in November.

Outa will hold a media briefing later on Thursday.

The Constitutional Court declined the Democratic Alliance and Road Freight Association's applications as friends of the court.

The DA's Gauteng caucus leader Jack Bloom said Sanral would find it difficult to implement the e-tolls in the face of widespread public opposition.

Legislation to implement the tolls had also still not been passed in Parliament.

"The DA will oppose this so that the public are treated fairly in this matter," he said in a statement.

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