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Tolling could begin soon

Sep 20 2012 17:16
Johannesburg - E-tolling could possibly begin in a month's time, legal counsel for the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said on Thursday.

"They can immediately start... or when they are ready... it may take a month," said Pieter Conradie in Johannesburg.

He explained that the Constitutional Court's ruling - to overturn an interim order giving government the green light to toll Gauteng motorists - meant tolling could even start immediately.

Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said the public was not taken into account and that the costs to the people were too high.

"Outa is concerned that the voices of Gauteng road users have not been heard," he told reporters.

Proper processes were not followed, and people were still in the dark about how the system would operate.

Duvenage said revised tariffs and regulations needed to be published, and how payments would be undertaken was not clear.

Earlier, the Constitutional Court overturned an interim order, which had put a hold on the e-tolling project.

It ruled that the High Court in Pretoria had not considered the separation of powers between the high court and executive.

Reading the judgement, Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said the separation of powers was a vital tenet of South Africa's constitutional democracy.

"Courts must refrain from entering the exclusive terrain of the executive and legislative branches of government, unless the intrusion is mandated by the Constitution," he explained.

Courts should only grant an interim interdict preventing the national executive from exercising its statutory power in exceptional circumstances, and when a strong case is made out for the relief sought.

Courts must ask whether it is constitutionally appropriate to grant an interdict whose effect would be to encroach upon the exclusive domain of another sphere of government.

He said the duty of determining how public resources are to be drawn upon and re-ordered lies "in the heartland" of the executive government function and domain.

In April, the High Court granted Outa the interdict, ruling that a full review needed to be carried out before electronic tolling could be put into effect. The interdict prevented the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of the review.

Sanral and National Treasury appealed the court order, and said delays prevented the payment of the R21bn incurred building gantries.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) was adamant that there would be no e-tolling.

"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 judgement and implement what we all know is an extremely unpopular policy decision," Vavi said.

A programme of action would be announced at Cosatu's conference later.

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

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