Cape Town – A group of Democratic Alliance supporters gathered outside the Western Cape High Court earlier on Tuesday, chanting “No to Tolls”.
They were there to support the City of Cape Town’s application to have controversial plans for the implementation of tolls on the N1 and N2, scrapped.
The City wanted the decision by SA National Road Agency Limited to be set aside and said it believed “this is a case about decisions that will have huge consequences that will last at least 30 years.”
Geoff Budlender, SC for the City, told the court that Sanral, the environment minister and the transport minister did not have the necessary information when they gave the project the green light in 2008.
He said they needed to consider if tolling was viable and appropriate, and to do that they needed to know the costs of the project and the impacts of tolling.
Outside court, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said: “Its taken us four long years of lots of legal fee expenses to get here. We also had to go to the Supreme Court of Appeal to get the information that Sanral used to make their decision. We are also here because they didn’t do an impact study on the poor people living alongside the N1 and N2.”
De Lille believed tolling would also impact negatively on agriculture and manufacturing and said the decision to proceed was an “irrational one”.
In 2008, when Sanral decided to go ahead with the controversial project, cost estimates sat at R5 billion, but, De Lille said by 2011 those estimates had rocketed to R50 billion.
In 2014, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the information used to determine whether the project was viable needed to be made public. It was then discovered that while in Gauteng, road users are charged 30c per km, in Cape Town the price would be over double that at 72c a km.
De Lille said the City “recognises that roads must be upgraded, but Sanral must speak to us so that we can find the best possible formula without it costing such a lot of money.”
She called the entire process “procedurally flawed”.