Cosatu still awaiting toll documents

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iol news pic Patrick Craven INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven. Photo: Nonhlanhla Kambule

Cosatu was still waiting for uncensored e-toll project documents from the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) on Wednesday.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) had not had any word from Sanral by late on Wednesday afternoon, said spokesman Patrick Craven.

Sanral chief executive Nazir Alli gave Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi all the files on the matter live on e.tv on Tuesday, but several of the documents were blacked out.

This prompted Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele to instruct Sanral's board to make public all information pertaining to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

Craven said he had heard in media reports that Sanral was arguing that there was commercial information which it could not release.

“But that is precisely what we want to see. We want to see who is benefiting from the project and if it is run as a business.”

Sanral spokeswoman Priya Pillay could not immediately be reached for comment.

Opposition parties have criticised Sanral for withholding information.

“Alli disingenuously handed over heavily censored documents... after promising in a TV debate to reveal all documents,” said Gauteng Democratic Alliance spokesman Neil Campbell.

He said that when the DA sought information about the roads projects in October, Sanral said it would require payment of about R1 million for the cost of providing the information.

The Pan Africanist Congress has described Sanral's projects as “untransparent and expensive”.

“This is an attempt to hide information from the public, who will be forced to take out more from their less disposable income. What is it that Sanral is holding back from such a critical stakeholder as the public?,” asked spokesman Mudini Maivha.

“We are preparing ourselves for some shocks once proper and accurate information is availed to the public,” he said.

Meanwhile, the FF Plus described as “impracticable and possibly unlawful” the threat by Sanral and the government to withhold vehicle licences to force motorists to buy e-tags for the tolling system, which was set to start in Gauteng on April 30.

Threats such as withholding vehicle licences until e-toll debt was paid off have been widely reported since Cosatu took to the streets last week in a protest against the tolling system. It has threatened to come up with “creative ways” to halt implementation should the government not heed its demands.

“The whole system is already mired in controversy and this type of antagonism will merely fire the public on to use civil disobedience as an instrument,” said FF Plus spokesman Anton Alberts.

He said there were no legal grounds for vehicle licences to be withheld due to the non-payment of toll fees, as licensing fees were due to a provincial authority and toll fees were collected by a national agency.

“Even if the provincial authorities were prepared to agree to it, it is still a legal question as to whether there is a logical connection between the payment of toll fees and the issuing of licences as each regulates different aspects of public life,” he said. - Sapa


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