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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is to urgently challenge South Africa’s road building company in court after it announced it planned to resume work on the controversial N1/N2 toll road.
The N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project is on hold, pending the conclusion of an earlier legal challenge by the city.
But now the city fears that the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) intends to start work on the toll roads as soon as April 20 without first resolving the city’s concerns.
On Wednesday, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron said Sanral sent a notice to the city on March 6 saying it had “indicated its intention to conclude a concession contract with the preferred bidder – the Protea Parkways Consortium – or if necessary the reserve bidder, at an unspecified time after April 20, 2013”.
Herron said: “Sanral has also notified the city that it intends commencing with construction work, but it refuses to tell the city what work it plans to do, or when it will do it.”
He said the city was “gravely concerned” by Sanral’s notification because the city believed Capetonians had still not yet been given a full understanding of the financial implications of the project.
He claimed Sanral had thus far refused to provide:
l Information relevant to the costs of upgrading and tolling the N1 and N2.
l The likely magnitude of the toll fees.
l The impacts on road users, the local economy and the city and a review application, currently before the Western Cape High Court, still to be decided.
In November 2011, the city filed an urgent interdict application to halt the project, after which Sanral agreed it would take no further steps towards implementing the toll road project pending the city’s review application being heard. It also undertook to provide the city with 45 days’ notice of its intention to start work.
On March 28 last year, the city filed its application in the high court to review the decisions of Sanral, the minister of transport and the minister of environmental affairs, which make it possible for Sanral to toll the N1 and N2 into Cape Town. This review process has not yet run its course, prompting the city to now threaten renewed legal action.
“The city does not believe that Sanral has been transparent in its engagement with the city, and hence we will ask the court to compel Sanral to provide all information necessary regarding this project as a matter of urgency,” said Herron.
He said the city did not want the toll road to be built before residents had a full understanding of the fees and cost implications, as had happened in Gauteng.
Sanral could not be reached for comment.