Sanral: We're ready to toll
Gauteng's motorists could start coughing up for e-tolls within weeks should an interdict against their implementation be overturned by the Constitutional Court.
Arguments presented on behalf of the SA National Roads Agency in the Constitutional Court yesterday showed that the state-owned company was ready to start collecting e-tolls.
The National Treasury, on Sanral's side, is anxious to see the money collected, having had to finance the Gauteng freeway improvement project in the meantime.
David Unterhalter SC, appearing for Sanral, said the cabinet had earmarked another R2-billion to help plug the hole in the agency's finances. This is on top of the R5.8-billion budgeted for earlier in the year against a total cost incurred of R20-billion.
Plans to start tolling were halted in May when the Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance obtained an interim interdict against Sanral.
The Treasury and Sanral then appealed to the Constitutional Court.
Jeremy Gauntlett SC, appearing for the Treasury, said the interim ruling by the Pretoria High Court was in effect permanent as it would take more than a year for the court to finalise its review of the decisions made by Sanral and the Treasury leading up to e-tolling.
The high court is set to review the administrative decisions late in November, but Gauntlett argued that a decision would only be reached much later and that Sanral and the Treasury would "bleed money" in the meantime.
The roads agency's alleged lack of readiness to implement e-tolls was one of the reasons put forward by Alistair Franklin SC, the legal counsel for Outa, yesterday.
Gauntlett and Unterhalter said, however, that their client needed only two weeks to implement the e-tolls.
Franklin argued that the government was happy to postpone e-tolls - seemingly indefinitely - but when the court intervened, the Treasury and Sanral claimed this delay caused irreparable harm.
According to Sanral's legal counsel, motorists and businesses had enough time to make their grievances about e-tolling known. Instead, they waited for more than four years. Judgment was reserved.
TWO SIDES OF THE TOLLING STORY
OUTA believes the government should use a fuel levy to fund freeway improvements, in effect making all fuel consumers in the country pay for the province's roads. Treasury and Sanral would rather see the direct users pay, calling a fuel levy an "inefficient method" of financing this sort of capital expenditure.