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Govt vs people on e-tolls, says DA

Apr 11 2013 16:59 Sapa
Tolls

The Democratic Alliance will challenge the roll-out of e-tolls in Gauteng within the next two months, said MPL Jack Bloom. (Cosatu, Twitter)

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Johannesburg - Electronic tolling of freeways faces an uphill battle in getting public acceptance, after roads agency Sanral said it will begin charging motorists within the next two months, DA leader in the Gauteng legislature Jack Bloom said on Thursday.

Bloom said even at this late stage government should reconsider its decision as mounting public resistance could make e-tolling unworkable.

"It's the government versus the people of Gauteng now that Sanral has announced... that e-tolls... will start within two months," he said in a statement.

He was responding to the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) who said e-tolling will begin within the next two months.

"Sanral faces an uphill battle in getting public acceptance," said Bloom.

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said in a statement: "What we are now waiting for is the completion of the parliamentary process, half of which is already done"

E-tolling bill

"As soon as the National Council of Provinces finalises the Transport and Related Matters Amendment bill, the bill will go back to the National Assembly for adoption."

The bill legalises e-tolling of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and was approved in the National Assembly.

Mona said Transport Minister Ben Martins would then announce the tariffs, followed by the necessary notice periods.

"That whole process will take about two months to complete. Thereafter e-tolling will start," said Mona.

"We have a responsibility to collectively build this country and are grateful that there are individual and corporate citizens who see the value of this project and are prepared to play their part in this regard."

E-tags

Mona advised motorists not to wait for the outcome of the appeal before registering for their e-tags.

However, Bloom said that the DA supports motorists who exercise their free choice not to buy an e-tag.

He said Gauteng had four million registered vehicles, and that Sanral's claim that 600 000 vehicles had been registered for e-tags mostly included government vehicles rather than citizens' vehicles.

"The e-toll booths in shopping centres have not attracted many customers at all," said Bloom.

Bloom also said that his party will challenge the process, which could halt the two month countdown.

"There may well be further delays in the e-tolls as the DA will insist on public hearings in the Gauteng legislature on the Transport and Related Matters Amendment Bill."

Judicial review

In April last year, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) an interdict approving a full judicial review before electronic tolling could be put into effect.

The interdict prevented Sanral from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of a review. Sanral and the National Treasury appealed the court order.

In September, the Constitutional Court set aside the interim order.

In December, an application by Outa to scrap e-tolling was dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

The court granted Outa leave, on January 25, to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein.

The SCA hearing will take place in September.

Mona, however, said the appeal had nothing to do with "whether e-tolling should go ahead or not".

"That question was settled by the Constitutional Court last year when it set aside the interdict that prevented Sanral from implementing e-tolling."

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