The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) said South African government claims the e-tolling system is ready to be implemented is a farce.
HumanIPO reported in January OUTA had been been granted leave to take their battle to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. A date for the appeal case is still to be set despite Tiyani Rikhotso, DoT spokesperson, calling OUTA’s legal battle irrelevant.
OUTA points to the fact lawyers representing the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) in the Constitutional Court argued they were ready to implement the e-tolling system in August last year.
OUTA said SANRAL had argued they were “anxious to get on with tolling” because they were in debt and their credit ratings were suffering as a result of an unfavourable interdict judgement.
The Constitutional Court allowed SANRAL to proceed last year, but since then the roads agency has not begun tolling.
“In fact, they are not ready to toll, their systems are still being tested, tariffs are not announced, regulations on exemptions etc still require finishing…” said OUTA on its Facebook page.
OUTA’s argument was made due to the recently renewed protests against e-tolling by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s Chairperson, believes this is a clear indication that the plans by the Department of Transport (DoT) and SANRAL are incorrect.
The DoT’s excuse for the delays include legal processes, which it says needs to be tied up before the e-tolling can commence. Duvenage, however, believes this is nothing more than a smokescreen.
The DoT maintains it is not under any obligation to halt the e-tolling system due to the court ruling in their favour. Ben Martins, minister of transport, said in January the e-tolling system would be ready by the end of March.
Rikhoto added that giving time for legislative processes to run their course is not an indication of failure on the part of government.
“Quite frankly, they have never been ready to toll, so whose fault is it that they are so far behind in their ability to collect the funds?” added OUTA.