STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER: TRANSPORT FOR CAPE TOWN, COUNCILLOR BRETT HERRON
The City of Cape Town today, 16 August 2016, in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) defended the judgment of the Western Cape High Court that prevents the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) from tolling sections of the N1 and N2 freeways in Cape Town.
SANRAL appealed against the judgment in the Winelands tolling matter that was handed down by Justices Ashley Binns-Ward and Nolwazi Boqwana of the Western Cape High Court on 30 September 2015. The judgment reviewed and set aside the approvals that would enable SANRAL to burden Western Cape road users with R62 billion of tolling costs.
The Winelands tolling case has been dragging on for too long already and was argued before Judges Navsa, Cachalla, Wallis, Petse and Mocumie of the SCA in Bloemfontein earlier today.The City once again argued in the SCA that the process undertaken by SANRAL to declare portions of the N1 and N2 as toll roads was improper and unlawful, as were some of the decisions preceding this declaration:
The Minister of Transport must approve the declaration of a toll road, but the Minister at the time admitted that he did not consider the merits of declaring a toll road
According to the SANRAL Act, only the SANRAL Board may take the decision to declare a toll road – the Board never made such a decision and was never given the information to enable it to make such a decision
SANRAL’s public participation process did not meet the requirements of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act – the only information provided to the public was where the toll roads would start and end, and the location of the toll plazas. Furthermore, the public’s comments and objections in the intent to toll process were not presented to the Board
SANRAL’s report to the Minister of Transport masked the fact that 99% of the comments received were objections, including objections from every affected municipality and the Western Cape province, the duly elected local and regional representatives of all of the affected residents, and road users
Furthermore, the report to the Minister did not mention the serious social impacts of tolling, the affordability of the proposed toll fees for low-income earners, and the financial viability of tolling
SANRAL has proposed a concession contract which guarantees payment of R62 billion – a cost which will have to be covered by the users of these roads by paying toll fees at a rate per kilometre, which will be more than three times higher (344%) than the toll fees paid by the users of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (Gauteng toll roads)
The City requested that the SCA dismiss SANRAL’s appeal with costs of three counsel.
Even though it is within the National Government’s mandate to determine how road infrastructure should be funded, the political decision-makers and public entities such as SANRAL are still obliged to follow due process and to act within the law.
The City remains opposed to tolling as a funding mechanism for the upgrading of existing roads and we will take this fight to the country’s highest court if need be. We are, however, willing and eager to work with SANRAL to find a solution for the infrastructural upgrades that may be required for the N1 and N2 freeways.
Judgment is reserved.