Treasury stands by Sanral

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By Devereaux Morkel

Pretoria - A court attempt by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) to scrap the implementation of e-tolling in Gauteng should be dismissed, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

“We stand by (the SA National Roads Agency Limited) Sanral and the transport department... to dismiss this case of the applicants,” argued Jeremy Gauntlett SC, who is appearing for the National Treasury.

“Outa has been hopping around to make a case of dishonesty against Sanral and run a new case on that basis,” he submitted.

The court is hearing the final arguments in the case.

Gauntlett said the Treasury had nothing to do with the case, but was a respondent because of the effects on the economy if e-tolling was barred.

He contended that Outa had failed to bring an ordinary commuter who would explain how they would be affected and how Sanral had lied to them.

“This application should be dropped like a stone,” said Gauntlett.

“The application has taken up so much paper and legal time.”

Vincent Maleka SC, for the transport department, told the court roads in Gauteng had been upgraded and that the public had supported the upgrade.

“That (upgrade) can't be reversed,” he submitted.

On Tuesday morning, David Unterhalter SC, for Sanral, also said the application to scrap e-tolls should be dismissed.

He argued that Sanral had done what was required by law, it had engaged with the public on various platforms, and that the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) was not part of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

“Tolling can't be undone. People drive on the upgraded roads every day. We are going to fund it through tolls. It has been decided,” Unterhalter told the court.

He contended that Outa had changed its submissions in September after the Constitutional Court overturned an interim order putting the Gauteng e-tolling project on hold.

The Constitutional Court found the High Court in Pretoria had not considered the separation of powers between the high court and the executive.

On April 28, the high court granted the interdict to Outa, ruling that a full review needed to be carried out before e-tolling could be put into effect.

The interdict prevented Sanral from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of the review.

Sanral and the Treasury have said that the delays in implementing e-tolls have prevented the payment of R21 billion incurred in the building of gantries.

Gauntlett said Outa had gone to court without a “properly pleaded case”.

He said the case should be moved by evidence.

He said the case could not be a “class action” because the class was not certified.

The case was a public finance matter and should not be argued in court. - Sapa

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