Premium Journalist
2 minute read
12 Aug 2015
5:37 pm

Cape Town adopted ‘Brer rabbit approach’ says Sanral


The South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) has hit back at the City of Cape Town in the Western Cape High Court, accusing it of wanting to “set aside decisions taken nearly 12 years ago”.

FILE PICTURE: Motorists pass through a toll gantry. Picture: Michel Bega

The City has approached the Western Cape High Court to have the decision to toll parts of the N1 and N2 reviewed and set aside.

But advocate for Sanral, Bruce Leech SC, told the court that the “starting point for this case is the question of delay”.

He charged that decisions were made as far back as early 2000, yet the City did not act or ask for more information as they were entitled to, at the time.

Even when Sanral CEO Nazir Alli submitted an application to the transport minister to have the highways declared toll roads in 2008, the City didn’t act, but instead adopted a “Brer rabbit approach and lay low”.

Sanral also contended that it had “no idea where the tolls will be fixed in this matter”, adding that the statement that Capetonians would have to pay three times what Gautengers pay to use the toll roads was “an empty statement.”

The City has stated that it would cost Cape Town motorists 74c per km in toll fees, nearly triple the 26c per km charged in Gauteng.

Earlier on Wednesday, advocate for the City, Geoff Budlender, told the court that Sanral was embarking on a R50 billion rand project without knowing who would pay for it.

He said: “The deep irony is that the City may have saved Sanral from financial crisis, but fortunately it’s not too late to ask the right questions.”

He urged the court to set aside the decision of the transport minister in 2008 to declare the highways in question toll roads and said Sanral “needed to be given the opportunity to do it again and do it properly”.

Budlender said the Winelands Tolls Project would impact significantly and adversely on the public purse.

He argued that “for at least thirty years, hundreds of thousands of people would be forced to pay tolls unlawfully and the public will find it difficult to understand why they have to pay those tolls simply because the City was late in bringing a review”.

The City said the project would have an adverse impact on poor people and “when you discriminate against poor people you discriminate against black people”.

It said that when the decisions were made the decision-makers didn’t know what the project would cost, nor what the toll fees would be.

Sanral has argued that the City of Cape Town has agreed that South Africa’s roads needed upgrading, they simply did not agree with the funding mechanism of toll fees that would be used to do this.

It said the estimated funding requirement to sustain the SA road network currently stood at R65,8 billion a year.

The case continues before Judge Ashley Binns-Ward on Thursday.