Sanral's choosing e-tolling as a method of funding had caused it more damage than the court order that halted the system, the Constitutional Court heard on Wednesday.
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) lawyer Alistair Franklin said the interim interdict was not the cause of “irreparable harm” to the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral).
It rather suffered “self-imposed” harm by not looking at alternative funding models.
“There are other methods to collect the money, such as fuel levies,” he said.
“The disproportionate cost of tolling is irrational when there is available to the agency 1/8Sanral 3/8 another choice for funding which does not involve any costs.”
The High Court in Pretoria granted Outa an interdict against e-tolling on April 28. It instructed that a full review needed to be carried out before electronic tolling of Gauteng's highways could be put into effect.
Sanral and National Treasury are appealing against the court order. Sanral argued that delays in the project due to the court's order prevented it from paying off debts incurred in building gantries.
Franklin said on Wednesday this argument was untrue as there were four postponements prior to Outa's application for the interdict.
“It appears on the facts that government was quite prepared to postpone e-tolling at its own volition.
“But if there is an impediment to e-tolling that is not of its own making, then it suggests that that is calamitous and will result in irreparable harm.”
Franklin said Sanral was not ready to put the project into effect.
“Sanral was not ready 1/8at the time of the interdict 3/8 and is still not ready to commence e-tolling.”
He said this was evidenced by the absence a new tariff notice.
Though Sanral said public transport would be exempted from e-tolling, these exemptions had not been published.
Sanral had also not distinguished between the driver, user and owner of a vehicle that could be tolled.
“It is unable to commence tolling without legislative amendments.”
Sanral's paying its debt though e-tolling would be “practically unworkable”.
“That would be a disaster, quite frankly.”
Franklin said the government was asking the court to create a new set of rules for interim interdicts, when in fact the High Court's order was no different from other interim orders.
He admitted the order was not perfect, and did not deal with the separation of powers.
Franklin said the central issue in the case was for the public “to have a lawful tolling system, or the right to interdict an unlawful system”. - Sapa