The proposed toll project covered both the N1 and N2 routes and would effectively have tolled all movement of goods and people in and out of the Cape metropole.

Cape Town - The Constitutional Court has stopped the South African National Roads Agency Limited's plans for toll roads in the Winelands, and has ordered that Sanral pay the City of Cape Town’s legal costs of more than R20 million.

The order, granted on Friday, was received with delight by Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and Mayoral Committee member for the Transport and Urban Development Authority Brett Herron.

Sanral says it is set to engage with the City to find a solution to the growing crisis of traffic congestion in the Winelands.

Sanral applied to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal against a High Court ruling against the parastatal’s decision to go ahead with the Winelands N1/N2 toll project.

In 2008 the provincial Transport Department, the City, and the Cape Winelands Municipality objected to the proposed toll roads.

The courts heard Western Cape drivers would have had to pay 84.59c/km, compared with the 30c/km charged by the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project for light vehicles.

Flawed decision-making

In 2015 the Western Cape High Court set aside Sanral’s decision to go ahead with the tolling project, when it found flaws in agency’s decision-making process. In another judgment Sanral was refused leave to appeal. This was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2016.

Sanral then unsuccessfully approached the Constitutional Court.

On Sunday Herron praised the order, and said ratepayers could also celebrate the fact that the Constitutional Court had ordered Sanral to pay the City’s legal costs which were in excess of R20 million.

“Sanral has no choice but to concede that they followed an improper and unlawful process which, if it was left unopposed, would have resulted in Western Cape road users paying R62 billion in toll fees over a period of 30 years,” said Herron. “We called on Sanral at times to refrain from wasting taxpayers’ money on further legal actions. We pointed out that the city has won every round in court since we launched our review application on March 28, 2012 to set aside the approvals that enabled them to toll sections on the N1 and N2 freeways in Cape Town,” he added.

'Work with us'

De Lille said on Sunday that in 2015 she had asked Sanral to work with the City and explore infrastructure projects needed for road maintenance and to ease traffic flow. But Sanral had refused, she said.

“Instead of working with the City to find alternatives, more than R20 million of taxpayers’ money has been used in a five-year court battle to halt the tolling project which would have had dire economic consequences for all road users, especially the poor.

“In the interest of providing quality infrastructure I am asking Sanral once again to sit down with the City so that we can work out what the needs are," De Lille said. "I am saying, let us work together for the sake of the roads in our city.”

'New approach'

Sanral’s Vusi Mona said on Sunday: “Over the past two months the roads agency has consistently stated that it is embarking on a new consultative approach with relevant stakeholders to find common ground on challenges that relate to road infrastructure development.

“As reaffirmed by our new chief executive, we will continue to engage the City of Cape Town to find a solution to the growing congestion crisis in the Winelands area. Discussions with the City have already started.”

Mona said Sanral had noted the judgment and would abide by it.

“The roads agency is not only pursuing engagements with the Western Cape and City of Cape Town but with other municipalities and provinces such as eThekwini, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State to unlock economic growth potential and contribute to regional development.

“This is the new perspective in the roads agency which its recently appointed chief executive Skhumbuzo Macozoma seeks to ingrain,” Mona said.

Cape Times

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