Cape tolls unlawful, argues City

May 16 2013 13:12

Cape Town - Sanral has not shown a shred of evidence to prove its proposed winelands tolling project has been properly authorised, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

Geoff Budlender SC, for the City of Cape Town, said the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) had failed to offer any documentation showing its board had come to a resolution on the N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project.

"It's plainly unlawful. Sanral knows it's unlawful," he said in argument for an urgent interdict preventing Sanral from concluding a contract with a toll concessionaire until a court had reviewed the legality of the project.

The city wanted a court order forcing Sanral to provide certain documents it had requested on the decision-making process, to assist it in the review.

Budlender argued that allowing Sanral to go ahead, pending the review, would put the roads agency in a "terrible position", where it was locked into a R10bn contract and might have to look for funding elsewhere.

The proposed concession route along the N1 extends from west of the R300 interchange through to Sandhills. The N2 portion of the proposed toll road concession extends from west of the R300 to Bot River.

According to a diagram on Sanral's website, 106km of the N1 and 70km of the N2 would be tolled should the project go ahead.

Budlender argued that the transport minister at the time decided to let the project go ahead without knowing the full costs involved, a decision which was "irrational".

"The minister did not know what the costs of the project would be, the minister didn't know what the toll fees would be, didn't know if it would be affordable, and didn't know if it would be financially viable," he said.

In addition, there was evidence to suggest the environmental minister at the time authorised the project based only on its environmental impact, not the socio-economic impact on the surrounding communities, he said.

Budlender said it was a moot point to say fees collected on a certain road would be beneficial to that region.

He said toll fees were distributed to national projects.

"To call it a user-pays policy is somewhat of a misnomer," he said.

On Thursday, the Democratic Alliance said it was leading the fight against tolls around the country, because citizens should not have to pay more than was necessary to have decent roads.

"This is a fight we are prepared to take to the Constitutional Court if we have to," DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said.

Around 50 DA and DA Youth members, clad in bright blue shirts and posters in hand, protested outside the court, shouting "No to tolls".

Their loud singing could be heard during the first part of proceedings.

The hearing has been set down for two days.

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democratic alliance  |  sanral  |  tolls



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