Opposition to e-tolls grows
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Resistance to the planned implementation of electronic tolling on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) is intensifying as the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the government are set to face three court applications within days in an attempt to stop its implementation.
Lobby group AfriForum yesterday joined the fray by announcing that it had instructed its legal team to prepare to oppose “on an urgent basis in court” the decision of Sanral to levy a tariff of R1.75 a kilometre on road users not registered for e-tolling.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), comprising largely a number of business organisations, last month lodged an application in the Gauteng North High Court for an interdict to prevent the tolling of the GFIP.
This application is set to be heard on Tuesday.
Business Report is aware of a third organisation preparing to lodge an urgent court application to stop the implementation of e-tolling on the GFIP.
AfriForum said its court application would be based on the Competition Act.
Kallie Kriel, the chief executive of AfriForum, said yesterday that the Competition Act stipulated that no dominant company was allowed to abuse its position of dominance to levy excessive tariffs.
“The public is asked to wait for the outcome of the proposed legal action of AfriForum and other groups before deciding whether to register for e-tolling at all,” he said.
Outa’s court interdict application is based on a number of grounds, including that the planned e-toll system was grossly expensive, inefficient and a waste of citizens’ money; it was fundamentally wrong to apply an additional toll against citizens along their daily commuter routes; the e-toll project was unfairly punitive to Gauteng citizens who contributed much more in taxes than the value and spending they received in return; and the user-pays principle” as declared by Sanral as a motive to use tolls to pay for the GFIP was flawed.
Business Unity SA and the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry both yesterday called for the implementation of e-tolling on the GFIP to be delayed because of continued uncertainty and confusion surrounding the system.
In a statement issued on Monday reacting to comments by Outa that the gazetted e-tolling tariffs did not make any provision for the exemption of the taxi industry and public transport vehicles, Sanral said the public transport exemptions for buses and minibus taxis were made via regulations issued separately in terms of the Sanral Act.
It is not clear if these regulations have been gazetted.
Sanral failed to respond to questions e-mailed to the organisation on Monday. The national Transport Department also failed yesterday to respond to Business Report queries about e-tolling.
Philip Taaibosch, the general secretary of the SA National Taxi Council, said it was not aware if regulations had been published exempting the industry from e-tolls.
He said it would continue to believe it was exempted and would not be charged until an announcement was made.
“We take at face value and trust that we are dealing with an honest government that will keep its word,” he said.