Supreme Court says no to Sanral toll road appeal

THE South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has been denied the right to toll sections of the N1 and N2 freeways in the province.

The Supreme Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed Sanral’s appeal on a judgment made in September last year, with costs, over the right to toll the Cape Winelands route.

The City had embarked on a four-and-a-half-year legal battle to prevent the toll roads.

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said the agency respected the Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling.

“We will, however, study the judgment and reasons provided by the Court of Appeal. Thereafter we will decide on a reasonable course of action to address the impact of the delay and the congestion which will result from an increase in road users and urban developments along this economic urban corridor,” he said.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the City’s estimated legal costs in fighting the four-and-a-half year battle with Sanral have already reached at least R20 million.

“The City has successfully argued in court that the minister of Transport and Sanral both failed to consider relevant information – such as the impacts of tolling, the affordability of the proposed toll fees for low-income earners, traffic diversion rates and the impact on the surrounding road networks, the financial viability and sustainability of the tolling project, and other less expensive funding options for the refurbishment of the N1 and N2 freeways,” De Lille said.

“No consideration was given to the negative macro-economic impact on the region and province’s economy, in particular to those sectors that rely on freight services such as the agricultural sector. Furthermore, the economic landscape in which the declaration to toll was taken has changed, in particular the downswing in the local economy,” she said.

The DA welcomed the decision, with provincial deputy leader Bonginkosi Madikizela saying Sanral failed to conduct adequate public participation processes prior to its decision to toll Western Cape.

He said funding the maintenance of roads in the Western Cape road through fuel levies would protect the most vulnerable road users against paying tolls.