Gauteng motorists will soon have to dig deeper into their pockets because, within the next three months, they will have to start paying to use the highways.
This is after the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance’s attempts to get the courts to scrap the unpopular multibillion-rand e-toll project failed on Wednesday.
The tariffs, which were published on the same day the court made its decision, will make it financially difficult for the people of Gauteng not to pay tolls, with significant monetary penalties for those who don’t pay their tolls within seven, 30 and 60 days.
The notice gives the public 30 days to comment to the Department of Transport on the tariffs.
Just like earlier published notices on tariffs, motorists are given seven days to pay their e-toll account after having passed under a gantry, and those who have an e-tag will pay significantly less than those who don’t.
In the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment written by Judge Fritz Brand, Outa’s attempts to have a Pretoria High Court ruling overruled was refused on Wednesday by the second highest court in the country.
He did decide, however, to overturn a costs order, which would have meant Outa having to pay millions of rand for the government’s legal fees.
Outa said on Thursday that while it was disappointed at the outcome of the case, it was pleased that the SCA had scrapped the costs order.
It said it was studying the judgment and would explain its reaction on Thursday.
The judgment discusses the time delay - from the decision to use e-tolling to Outa’s review application, a total of five years.
The court felt this was too long for it to have approached the court.
The court said that if the appellants had come forward sooner and the decision to use e-tolls was put aside, then the South African national Roads Agency would never have borrowed R20 billion, which it now has to pay back.
The judgment notes that a decision to set aside the decisions made would affect not only the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, but would also have a detrimental impact on the countrywide network of national roads as a whole, with a clear knock-on effect on the economy.
It describes this as a spider’s web where pulling on one strand would cause tension in the entire web and would have an impact elsewhere.
On Monday, transport minister Dipuo Peters encouraged the public to buy e-tags. She said e-tolls would be implemented by the end of the year, without giving a specific date.
At the end of September, President Jacob Zuma signed the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, which paved the way for e-tolling.
The DA has made no secret of the fact that it is using the implementation of e-tolling as part of its election campaign.
DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane said that if he was elected premier of Gauteng, he would do away with e-tolling.
“E-tolling will kill jobs in Gauteng and make it harder for people to make ends meet,” he said.
The Automobile Association said it was disappointed that the voice of the public had not been heard.
“The concerns of South African citizens have not been addressed or acknowledged,” it said, “and it is a travesty that improved road infrastructure, which is so essential to this country, is being layered with unnecessary costs by adopting this particular method of funding when there are cheaper alternatives.”
The association reiterated that there was no legal requirement for motorists to buy an e-tag. - The Star