The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance finds the SA National Roads Agency’s (SANRAL) threatening response to a high court ruling on the Western Cape Winelands freeway upgrade project, as absurd and outrageous.
“The fact that a court has ruled against Sanral’s plans to toll the urban roads in the Western Cape, should elicit a response that would have Sanral ask why this is so,” says Wayne Duvenage, the Chairperson of OUTA. “It was a case that was rightly brought against Sanral and they lost. There is a strong message in that judgment, and instead of blaming the city for holding Sanral to account and threatening them with no freeway development for the next 20-years, Sanral should study the facts and establish why the judge ruled against them.”
Sanral’s head of Communications, Vusi Mona, also stated that ‘the Constitutional Court had already ruled that it was not the judiciary that determined what kind of funding should be used and who should bear the brunt of that cost. The remedy lies in the political process.’ But this is not at all the case and the ConCourt has made no such ruling. The ConCourt is not empowered to rule against the constitutional imperative that the government’s administrative action be cost-effective.
Mona is simply twisting a ConCourt statement from the Gauteng E-Toll ruling which sought to give cognizance to the separation of powers between the judiciary and the country’s leadership. However, when that leadership makes decisions by breaking the rules along the way and then subjecting society to extremely high costs and gross inefficiencies, the City of Cape Town and society at large have a responsibility to challenge these unacceptable behaviors and poor decisions.
Mona also stated that ‘it seemed the city’s real complaint with the N1/N2 Winelands toll project was about using tolling as the funding choice.’ “Well he certainly got that right,” says Duvenage. “That’s precisely the issue, especially in light of the fact that there are other more efficient and cheaper ways of going about financing this project.”
OUTA finds it worrying that Sanral suggests tolling is the only way to finance these freeway upgrade projects. This is not so and such comments are seen as a direct threat against the economic development opportunities of the region. “One can only liken such behavior to a spoilt child throwing their toys out the cot and holding the city to ransom, unless they get their way,” says Duvenage.