President Jacob Zuma has signed into law the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, paving the way for e-tolling, the presidency said on Wednesday.
The law in effect gives roads agency Sanral the nod to put into effect e-tolling on Gauteng’s freeways.
The news comes on the same day that the supreme court of appeal heard an appeal by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) in its legal challenge against Sanral, the transport minister and the national treasury.
Mike Maritz, for Outa, submitted that Sanral had ignored enabling legislation for it to exercise its discretion on the project.
He submitted that Sanral should have kept an open mind and taken into consideration all aspects, such as the cost of the project, public opinion, and whether to declare the roads toll roads.
Maritz submitted that even though Sanral was bound by cabinet’s decision to implement e-tolling, it still had to follow proper procedures.
He contended that the transport minister had not properly considered the cost of the toll system.
David Unterhalter SC, for Sanral, submitted that the agency had acted within the government’s developmental policy, which was set out before cabinet’s decision to continue with the Gauteng e-toll project.
Unterhalter said public opinion had been sought about the tolling of Gauteng’s freeways. He said the toll prices were a separate issue and were not part of the process of declaring toll roads.
It was also submitted that Outa had not calculated the cost of the tolling system, as alleged in court papers.
Counsel for national treasury, Jeremy Gauntlett SC, told the judges the implementation of tolling in Gauteng had been known about for a long time. “There was a high level of public knowledge in that e-tolling was coming,” he said.
He submitted that the project’s issues could not be handled as Outa had proposed to the court. Gauntlett said the project had gone too far already for a review of the system.
Outa is a group of business associations and individuals formed in March 2012 to challenge Sanral’s decision to implement e-tolling of Gauteng’s recently upgraded freeway network.
Outa felt this decision was irrational, unreasonable, and illegal.
Judge Fritz Brand reserved judgment. — Sapa