OUTA welcomes the court’s decision to interdict the launch of e-Tolling, thereby allowing time for the full matter and case to be heard in court. We are pleased that Judge Prinsloo has decided it would be prudent to keep the e-toll ‘horse in the stable’ until this matter is reviewed in full, notwithstanding the recent decision to halt the launch for another month.
OUTA remains adamant that much could have been done by both SANRAL and the Department of Transport to have averted this legal action. We again state that we do not oppose the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) as there is always a need to improve our infrastructure but we object to the implementation of an unacceptably expensive and administratively burdensome tolling system. It is wasteful to pay additional billions in administration costs when these funds could be diverted to other national transport projects. We believe that the various key decision makers were unable to fully apply their minds effectively, given the information presented to them when the decision to toll was made. It would appear to us that insufficient time and effort was spent empirically challenging the various funding methods available, of which the fuel levy is just one.
Indeed the uniqueness of this particular case, being how the broad spectrum of South African society rallied around the common purpose of e-Tolling, cannot be overlooked. One senses that this may well be the start of new consciousness within South Africa where its citizens have been vindicated and their voices heard.
The interdict victory is just the second round after the case for urgency of this matter was granted in our favour. A much longer and fierce battle now lays ahead as the volumes of documentation will be argued in court to finally prove our case that eTolling is an unjustified, irrational and punitive tax on the citizens of South Africa.
Notwithstanding the interdict which now suspends eTolling until this case has received a full review in court, the authorities recent decision to postpone eTolling is just another example of how poorly this matter has been handled. Five postponements and almost a year after the initial planned launch, SANRAL are still not ready. We are of the opinion that they will never be able to be ready, because in reality, it is only possible to introduce legislation and processes that are practically possible to apply and enforce. eTolling is not supported by the majority of citizens. It is also simply impractical and unenforceable and this this is what SANRAL and the authorities are now starting to realize. By trying to force an unpopular decision on its citizens, the authorities may fast be realizing that this is not a good recipe for a healthy relationship with its people.
We remain hopeful that all parties will find each other prior to the court review, but if this is not the case, we will continue to represent South African road users interests while we seek a more efficient solution to our funding challenges.
ISSUED BY OUTA – 28 April 2012