Following the recent granting of leave to appeal by Acting Judge Louis Vorster in the High Court on 25 January, there is a general level of confusion about the status of e-Tolling and OUTA’s legal challenge to halt Sanral’s plans to toll Gauteng’s recent freeway upgrades.
OUTA’s court battle now moves to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, where a panel of judges will assess OUTA’s grounds to have Sanral’s plan of tolling Gauteng’s freeways declared as illegal later this year. OUTA has always maintained a need to pay for the freeway upgrade but insists that SANRAL’s eToll scheme is irrational, cumbersome, inefficient and a very expensive way to raise funds from society, when more efficient and existing processes exist. Furthermore, OUTA claims that the public consultation process was seriously flawed and not conducted in line with the constitution and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) and it is for these reasons that OUTA feels confident about its case.
In the meantime, following to the Constitutional Court ruling in September 2012 which set aside the temporary interdict obtained in the High Court in April 2012, Sanral has been free to start with e-Tolling for nearly six months now. All indications are that announcements of eToll commencement dates, tariffs, exemption notices and other matters will be communicated to the public soon after the Budget speech by the Minister of Finance this week. We expect the tariffs and maximum charges to be lowered further as the authorities seek to win the public over and stick the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ into the e-Toll door.
Sanral’s marketing and PR team are also expected to set about with a huge wave of spend and energy early in March to convince the public to come on board, as they desperately attempt to get the tag rate numbers to high enough levels, in order to try and make the system work.
OUTA deems it necessary to ensure that the public know their rights and that it is perfectly legal to refrain from fitting an e-Tag to one’s vehicle whilst travelling on Gauteng’s freeways. The public have every right to pay the higher rates and to slow the system down to the extent that it becomes an administrative calamity and implodes on itself. This kind of passive resistance has been implemented by societies around the world to bring down tolling systems which have not been transparent, or have been too expensive, or lacked public engagement and therefor do not have the support of society at large.
OUTA expresses its gratitude to the thousands of citizens, families and businesses who have contributed to the R8,3 million raised to date, however, despite this excellent support, the alliance is well behind its commitments and requires a further R3,5 million for current and future legal costs through to the appeal in the Supreme Court later this year. All donations are welcome and can easily be made via their web site at www.outa.co.za.