SANRAL to face legal challenge in the Western Cape

Gauteng etoll gantry on the N1

The etoll gantry on the N1 highway in Johannesburg. The etoll proposal has experienced fierce resistance among South African commuters.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) believes the City of Cape Town stands a better chance to block the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) from implementing e-tolling in the Western Cape.

On Monday, the Democratic Alliance (DA), through the City of Cape Town, launched a campaign to stop SANRAL from establishing a tolling system on the Western Cape national roads, similar to what the agency did in Gauteng.

The opposition party has applied for an urgent interdict to halt the project. The DA will present its case on May 16 at the Western Cape High Court.

The party also plans to start a ‘door to door’ campaign to spread their message in the Western Cape.

OUTA, a civil society movement that took the roads agency to court for e-tolling in Gauteng, is convinced the City of Cape Town can put the breaks on government’s ambitions of e-tolling.

In Gauteng, government recently announced the system would go ahead in less than two months after the Constitutional Court ruled against OUTA in December.

OUTA  has however been granted leave to appeal and are taking the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The organization said, the fact that the DA has started earlier in the process to put up a fight, gives them an advantage.

"They have the backing of a political party and that puts them in a good position going into this fight. In Gauteng we opposed it as civil society and we did not start as early as they have," said OUTA spokesman Wayne Duvenage.

Duvenage says, although there haven’t been proper consultations between the OUTA and the City of Cape Town, the two will have in depth discussions in the future as it is necessary.

One of the alliance’s arguments against the implementation of the project in Gauteng was that SANRAL had not conducted public hearings on the matter before putting up the guntrees.

Duvange says, government still has not consulted the public about e-tolling in Cape Town.

"I’m surprised they’re still not taking the public hearings route in Cape Town, this is going to count against them in court," said Duvenage.

Duvenage added that it can’t be possible that government be allowed to go ahead with a ‘user pay’ model on public roads before looking at alternatives of funding the project.

"They’ll have to emphasise that e-tolling is privatising commuter routes, the daily routes that people use to and from work, not the out of town roads that are used for holiday destinations, it cannot be right".

SANRAL’s proposed Western Cape project will establish tolling along the N1 and the N2 highways.

It remains to be seen if Cosatu will throw their weight behind this latest challenge.

Cosatu was one of the loudest voices against the move in Gauteng, organizing marches that brought the city of Johannesburg to a standstill in November last year while OUTA prepared their case.

The DA will present its case on May 16 at the Western Cape High Court.

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