Businesses take e-toll battle to court
Fin24

Businesses take e-toll battle to court

2012-03-25 15:03

Pretoria – Business people in the motor and tourism industries are at the forefront of a lawsuit initiated on Friday and aimed at putting a stop to the Gauteng e-tolling system.

Court documents were served on the respondents the same day and the case is expected to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on April 24, six days before the e-tolling system is due to kick off on April 30.

The applicants have requested an urgent interdict to stop the e-tolling system until the decision to implement it can be reviewed. A review process such as this can take a long time.

The applicants are attempting to have the declaration of certain roads as toll roads set aside. These roads have been improved and widened as part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). The applicants are also asking the court to set aside the environmental approval for the road improvements.

The application is based on the contention that the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) allegedly did not give sufficient notice of its intention to levy tolls on the roads in question.

A further argument is that the minister of transport's decision to approve the toll roads was unreasonable because of the exceptionally high cost of collecting tolls, the fact that it is “virtually impossible” to enforce collection, and that Sanral’s application for approval was defective.

In the minister's application the high cost of collecting tolls was apparently not disclosed; the social impact of the tolling system and the lack of proper public transport were not taken into account; and the impression was created that appropriate environmental approval would be obtained before the tolling system would be implemented, while this had not been the case.

The applicants argue further that Sanral did not follow the correct procedure for environmental approval and that the application had been defective because the levying of tolls had not been declared.

Finally the applicants say that the terms and conditions of the e-toll contract that road users must enter into with Sanral are unfair in terms of the Consumer Protection Act.

Wayne Duvenage of the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (Savrala) told a news conference held by the National Press Club that if the Gauteng tolling system proceeded, urban freeways across the country would soon also have tolling systems. The issue therefore affects the whole country, he said.

Michael Tatalias, chief executive of the SA Tourism Services Association (Satsa), said efforts to exploit the domestic tourism markets would be thwarted by the e-tolling system.

He said it would not only restrict travel in Gauteng but Gauteng residents, who constitute a principal source of domestic tourism, will cut down on their trips because of the financial burden of the tolls.

Jeff Osborne of the organisation for the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) said the RMI had joined the alliance because the tolling system will considerably increase the cost of doing business for its 8 000 dealership members. These members have around 280 000 employees who will be affected personally.

The respondents have to indicate by Wednesday whether they intend opposing the application and lodge their counter-arguments by April 9.

The applicants’ first big hurdle is to persuade the court that the matter is urgent, in light of the fact that they have known for years that the e-tolling system was coming, one of the parties involved told Sake24.

Should the case not be considered urgent, it would be placed on the ordinary court roll and motorists will have to pay toll fees.

Applicants and respondents

Applicants

- Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) and some of its members, namely:

- The Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (Savrala);

- The QuadPara Association of SA (Qasa); and

- The South African National Consumers Union (Sancu).

Respondents

- The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral);

- The minister of transport;

- The Gauteng MEC for roads and transport;

- The minister of water & environmental affairs;

- The director general of water & environmental affairs; and

- The National Consumer Commission.

 - Sake24

For more business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.

 

Comments
  • Alan - 2012-03-26 14:33

    Don’t buy e-tags. I am not going to let anybody deduct money from my account without proof of service. I will insist that Sanral POST all photographs of my car (with my number plates) going through the toll gates. They cannot email them because my spam blocker won’t allow them. Then if they can get that right then maybe I will pay. My company does not pay for anything without the vendor supplying proof of delivery. Similarly I will not pay for any toll without SANRAL proving to me that MY car with my number plate went through the toll.

  • Hugh - 2012-04-04 09:43

    This should hang up in court for a few years. Where do we donate to the cause?

  • Kas - 2012-04-12 06:28

    I see a massive increase in cars driving with stolen number plates coming!

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