ACDP MP and justice spokesperson, Steve Swart, has called government’s decision to appeal the Gauteng e-tolling decision “regrettable” as it will further delay the finalisation of litigation surrounding this controversial project.
“The ACDP regret’s today’s Cabinet decision to appeal the interim order granted in the Gauteng North High Court interdicting SANRAL and government from implementing the e-tolling system. In our view, it will further delay the review application into all decisions taken on the whole e-tolling saga. We believe the review application would shed important light on various issues, including the contacts relating to the cost of collection. It is significant that the Minister of Transport has requested copies of various contracts, indicating that he, too, was unaware of the exact costs of collection.
We also note government’s commitment to SANRAL as set out in the Cabinet statement to the effect that “in light of the delay in e-tolling as a result of the court decision, government will take the necessary steps to ensure Sanral’s financial soundness pending the outcome of the legal and consultation processes. In this regard, the Committee chaired by the Deputy President is exploring interim measures to assist Sanral in meeting its financial obligations.”
The ACDP will be inquiring whether this means that a further bail-out from National Treasury will be sought, and if so, what the amount will be. It seems that at the end of the day the taxpayer will have to pay for this debacle, either in the form of user charges, should the court challenge be unsuccessful, or in the form of a bail-out from National Treasury. While the improved roads are most welcome, the exorbitant costs of this e-tolling project (particularly the collection costs) are not.”