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Tuesday Apr 24, 2012

Sanral's plans are 'logistically impossible'

The former minister of Transport was not given sufficient information to make an informed decision on e-tolling and the public was not properly informed about the tolling of Gauteng's highways.

These are just two of the main points made in a responding affidavit by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) filed before court at the weekend.

The alliance's papers are a response to an affidavit filed by Sanral and the Department of Transport last week stating that the road infrastructure project was meant to boost the economy and that toll fees were meant to subsidise public transport.

Outa is seeking to urgently interdict Sanral's plans to toll Gauteng's freeways from April 30.

Outa refers to a lack of explanation about the collection costs of etolling, that this information was not disclosed to the minister of transport when e-tolling was first proposed and that environmental authorisations were obtained without proper consideration of the socio-economic impact.

Outa's three main points: The irrationality and unreasonableness of e-tolling as a method of revenue collection;

The inefficiencies and unnecessary expense to the road user.

The serious lack of meaningful engagement and consultation with the people who would ultimately be paying for this upgrade.

"E-tolling at current rates with expected escalations will generate in excess of R102 billion over the next 20 years for an infrastructure that costs only R32bn (including interest) over the same period. This means that R70bn will have been overpaid by the public, an amount that will be wasted on an elaborate and inefficient administration and collection scheme in which foreign and local companies, along with Sanral, will be enriched," it reads.

In its affidavit, Outa said Sanral did not dispute that the cost of collection would exceed the cost of the upgrade. Sanral had not disclosed the operation costs to the public, nor had it disclosed the information to the court.

"It is plain that Sanral and the Department of Transport moved from the 2006 proposal to the first proposal to the cabinet in October 2006 and thereafter to the second proposal to the cabinet in July 2007 without there being any comprehensive consideration of alternative methods of funding.

Outa said e-tolling was "a logistical impossibility", which Sanral had denied in its affidavit.

Sanral CEO Nazir Alli had said in papers that a million vehicles were expected to use the e-toll system every day.

"When this figure is put together with the statement by Alli in his letter to Business Unity South Africa, that the expected levels of non-compliance will be 7 percent... it emerges that within seven days of the implementation of e-tolling there will be 70 000 noncompliant defaulters from whom toll collection will have to be made each day," Outa states.

It concluded that this meant 2.1 million summonses would have to be served every month, using the Criminal Procedure Act and the magistrate's courts.

The Star


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