Pretoria: Trade union federation Cosatu says it regrets the ruling by the Constitutional Court on Thursday in favour of Government and the SA National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) in a court case that had led to the delay of the implementation of e-tolling on Gauteng’s freeways.
The High Court in Pretoria had earlier granted The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) an interdict against e-tolling, which was scheduled to begin on some Gauteng highways on 30 April. It instructed that a full review needed to be carried out before electronic tolling of Gauteng’s highways could start. The interdict prevented SANRAL from collecting e-toll fees, pending the outcome of a judicial review.
SANRAL and National Treasury appealed against that court order. The agency argued that delays in the project due to the court’s order prevented it from repaying debt incurred in building gantries.
On Thursday, the Concourt judges, in their unanimous decision, upheld the appeal – effectively setting aside the order of the High Court. This means that SANRAL can go ahead with the implementation of the e-tolls but it would be desirable for the appeal to be heard first.
“The Congress of South African Trade Unions regrets the decision of the Constitutional Court to lift the suspension of the implementation of e-tolling on Gauteng highways,” it said in a statement.
It said it opposed the e-tolling in principle, describing it “as an attempt to privatise a public asset and force motorists, including thousands of workers, to pay double to get to and from work, attend family events, or to be forced to use slow, pot-holed alternative routes”.
“We reject the argument for ‘user-pays’ for basic public services like our roads. This is not just a Gauteng issue. If e-tolling is accepted in one province it will open the door to more e-tolls in other provinces and we will oppose them anywhere,” said Cosatu.
It also warned government not to implement e-tolls until consultations between Cosatu, government and the ANC – in a joint task team to investigate alternative and better ways to fund road construction and improvements – had been completed.
“Should they do so Cosatu will oppose them with every power we have and this will form part of the Programme of Action which is to be adopted at the conclusion of the Cosatu 11th National Congress later today,” said the trade union.