File photo: Ross Jansen.

Cape Town - The city of Cape Town and roads agency Sanral are locking horns again over the proposed R10 billion N1 and N2 tolling project, with the city saying Sanral is attempting to keep the public in the dark about the costs of tolling.

The Western Cape High Court last year put a temporary stop to the project. An interdict was put in place until the finalisation of the city’s review application in which it is asking the court to set aside the decision to declare the N1 and N2 toll roads.

Sanral initially withheld certain documents – which it considered to be confidential – revealing the costs of tolling and implications for ratepayers.

Mayoral committee member for Transport Brett Herron said the city received the documents about the costs of tolling only in January.

He said the city’s supplementary court papers showed how much it would cost to convert the N1 and N2 into toll roads, how proposed toll fees would compare to those paid by motorists in Gauteng, the toll revenue expected from the N1 and N2 toll project and how much of the toll fees would be spent on the project infrastructure and operations.

Herron said Sanral was trying to prevent the city from submitting the cost information in a public court.

Sanral wants the matter to be heard in camera, which means the public will not have access to this information.

“Sanral wants to keep the cost to the taxpayer a secret by preventing the city from disclosing this information. Sanral is using the excuse of ‘commercial confidentiality’ to prevent the public disclosure of information contained in the bids submitted by the companies that wish to toll the N1 and N2,” Herron said.

Despite several attempts, Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona could not be reached for comment by deadline yesterday.

The city believes no part of the city’s court papers should be kept from the public.

On Wednesday, Western Cape High Court Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso ruled in chambers that Sanral and the Protea Parkways Consortium – which made the initial unsolicited proposal that initiated the Winelands Toll Project, and has been selected by Sanral as the preferred bidder – must make an application to court by June 17 motivating why the city should not be allowed to file its supplementary papers openly.

The matter will be heard in camera in the Western Cape High Court on August 4.

Herron said: “Sanral is a public agency of the national Department of Transport and they should be transparent.”

Attorney for the city, Cormac Cullinan, said: “The crucial issue is that the numbers matter. If toll fees are 1c, no one would moan, but if it’s R1 000 everyone would moan.”

He said it was better that such issues were debated before the tolls were built.

Cape Times