Sanral’s tolling bid thrown out of court

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein ruled in favour of the City of Cape Town on Thursday September 22 when judges dismissed the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL’S) bid to toll sections of the N1 and N2 in Cape Town. The ruling came after a four-and-a-half-year legal battle between the City and Sanral. (“City and Sanral at loggerheads over toll roads,” Northern News, August 31.)

Mayor Patricia de Lille welcomed the ruling, saying “The City of Cape Town has won every round in court since we launched our review application on March 28 2012, to set aside the approvals that enabled Sanral to toll sections of the N1 and N2 highways in Cape Town.

“Sanral should finally concede that they followed an improper and unlawful process, which, if it was left unopposed, would have resulted in Western Cape road users paying R62 billion in toll fees over a period of 30 years. As such, the outcome of this court case is a resounding victory for the residents of Cape Town and the Western Cape province as a whole.”

She added, “A full bench of the SCA upheld the judgment in the Winelands tolling matter that was handed down by Justices Ashley Binns-Ward and Nolwazi Boqwana of the Western Cape High Court on September 30 2015.

“The City successfully argued in court that the Minister of Transport and Sanral both failed to consider relevant information – such as the impacts of tolling, the affordability of the proposed toll fees for low-income earners, traffic diversion rates and the impact on the surrounding road networks, the financial viability and sustainability of the tolling project, and other less expensive funding options for the refurbishment of the N1 and N2 freeways.”

The SCA ruled the 2014 decision of the Sanral Board to declare certain sections of the N1 and N2 as toll roads to be invalid and it was reviewed and set aside and it dismissed Sanral’s appeal with costs.

Meanwhile, Sanral said it was studying the ruling. “Sanral respects the Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling,” said spokesman Vusi Mona.

“We will, however, study the judgment and reasons provided by the Court of Appeal. Thereafter we will decide on a reasonable course of action to address the impact of the delay and the congestion which will result from an increase in road users and urban developments along this economic urban corridor.”

In a media statement theDA welcomed the SCA’s ruling.

“Sanral failed to conduct adequate public participation processes prior to its decision to toll Western Cape roads. As such, there is little to no understanding of the impact that tolling stands to have on low income road users in rural areas of the Western Cape,” it said.

Congratulating the City for fighting against the tolls it added, “Tolling our roads will threaten job creation and expose the poor to paying rates that they cannot afford.

“Much of the Western Cape economic growth potential depends on the agricultural sector. The farming communities that are central to this growth will be placed at risk due to tolling.”