150811. Cape Town. Democratic Alliance (DA) members picket outside the high court in opposition of the proposed Winelands Toll Project. The City of Cape Town again met the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) in the Western Cape High Court today.They will be fighting it out over the proposed Winelands Toll Project. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

SANRAL’S proposal to toll sections of the N1 and N2 in the Western Cape was “entirely irrational”. That’s how the City of Cape Town described the process used to implement the toll roads project.

It approached the Western Cape High Court yesterday to have the South African National Roads Agency Limited’s (Sanral’s) proposal scrapped.

Arguing for the city, Geoff Budlender SC, told the court that decision-makers had to consider if tolling was appropriate and viable.

In order to do this, they would need to know “the costs and the impact” of tolling. But, he said, “evidence showed that none of the decision-makers considered these questions”.

In a lengthy argument of 7 465 pages, the city detailed why it believed the decision to proceed with tolling was “procedurally flawed”.

Over the 30-year concession period, the public would have to “pay between R44.9 billion and R48.4bn in toll fees (2010 values excluding vat)”.

And, Budlender argued that if the tolls were set at a lower rate, Sanral would have to pay the shortfall to the developer, Protea Parkway Consortium (PPC).

He told the court that Capetonians would have to pay 74c per km at 2013 values, nearly three times the rates that Gauteng toll road users pay.

Budlender said none of this information was available to the decision makers, yet “we now know the real cost (of the project) would be R58.9bn”.

Speaking outside court, mayor Patricia de Lille said it was only because of a Supreme Court of Appeal decision last year that these figures were made public.

She said the project would affect poor people living alongside the N1 and N2, and would also impact on the agriculture and manufacturing industries which rely on the roads for goods trans-portation.

Budlender told the court that the Sanral Board should have made the decision in accordance with the Sanral Act, but there was no evidence to suggest they did this as no minutes or documents recorded the decision.Instead, he inferred that Sanral chief executive Nazir Alli made a rogue decision as “a board can’t make a decision passively, through osmosis”.

He also argued that the environment minister gave authorisation for the project to go ahead after “considering only the biophysical aspects of the proposal”. He (environment minister) did not consider the socioeconomic impact of the manner in which the road would beupgraded and used.”

The case has been set down for the rest of the week, with arguments for the council expected to continue today. – ANA