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Johannesburg - The dismissal of Outa's challenge against e-tolls has added certainty to tolling, the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) said on Wednesday.
“As Sanral, it has always been our view that we have done things according to the law,” Sanral CEO Nazir Alli said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein dismissed the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance's (Outa) latest challenge to e-tolling of Gauteng's freeways.
“It is regrettable that a purely infrastructural matter has been so politicised and resulted in unnecessary polarisation,” Alli said.
“My appeal to everyone is... let us join hands and move on. We have infrastructure to build, but critically, a country to build.”
SCA Judge Fritz Brand made no cost order when he handed down judgment.
However, Brand set aside the order granted by the High Court in Pretoria directing Outa to pay Sanral's costs, and replaced it with a ruling that there be no costs order.
Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said the alliance and its lawyers were studying Brand's judgment.
The Democratic Alliance said the fight against e-tolls was now in the hands of the people of Gauteng.
“E-tolling will kill jobs in Gauteng and make it harder for people to make ends meet,” DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
“The power of the vote is the surest way to stop tolls.”
Maimane said this was not the end of the road in the fight against e-tolls.
He said the DA had contributed R1 million to Outa's court action because it believed it was important to contest the principle of e-tolling.
The Automobile Association of SA (AA) said it was a travesty that the voices of the public had not been heard.
“The ongoing fight against e-tolls has not been about users refusing to pay for improved roads, but rather about the unnecessary, exorbitant and unacceptable additional costs that the e-toll system imposes on the citizens of Gauteng,” it said.
The AA called on the government to provide transparency on what the current national fuel levy of R2.13 per litre was being allocated to. It called for a dedicated fund derived from this levy for road infrastructure improvement to address the road maintenance backlog.
The Freedom Front Plus said it would join the legal battle against the tolling system.
“The public should, however, not lose hope as there is still an opportunity for Outa to turn to the Constitutional Court.
“The FFPlus will also now be contesting the e-toll bill in the high court on the basis that the bill is unconstitutional, and there is a strong probability of being successful with such an application,” FFPlus parliamentary spokesman Anton Alberts said in a statement.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the judge's ruling made no difference to its campaign against e-tolls.
“This decision will make no difference to Cosatu’s unwavering campaign against this attempt to privatise our public highways,” spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.
“... Our roads are a public asset already paid for through taxation and the fuel levy, and motorists should not therefore have to pay again to drive on these public highways.”