Cabinet to appeal e-tolls interdict

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pretoria - Cabinet has decided to appeal the court decision granting an interdict against e-tolling on Gauteng's main freeways.

"Cabinet has taken a decision to appeal the interim order to stop the e-tolling. Furthermore, government only received the written judgment late yesterday. Our lawyers are studying this judgment and will advise the executive in due course," Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi announced on Thursday.

The North Gauteng High Court granted an urgent interdict against e-tolling last month, placing the project on hold until a full review can take place. The system would have kicked off on 30 April.

Cabinet has since set up a Committee of Ministers, chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, to look at all aspects of the e-tolls, including the court decision, the implication of that decision, the implication on SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the ability to pay back the debt.

Manyi said that Cabinet had at its meeting this week, been briefed by the Committee on progress made on the work relating to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

"The Committee has reviewed all the facts and has directed that further work be done in certain areas. Cabinet has taken note of the comments made by the public and various organisations and expressed appreciation for the various views and solutions offered.

"Government will continue to consult the public and various organisations on the GFIP with a view to reaching a constructive outcome," said Manyi.

He said government had effected major improvements to Gauteng freeways under the first phase of the GFIP, which had brought about observable changes to the flow of traffic on these roads. He added that the benefits to motorists were evident.

However, he said in doing so Government had borrowed money and incurred a significant debt.

"As a country we need to demonstrate unequivocal commitment to meet all our contractual obligations, including repaying the debt incurred in the construction of GFIP. Defaulting on our debt is simply not an option," said Manyi.

He explained that Sanral was created by a democratic government and with its demonstrable capacity to manage large contracts and deliver world-class road infrastructure, it has proved to be a valuable institution of the state.

Manyi said government planned to use Sanral to build more road infrastructure faster, in the period ahead.

"Accordingly, in light of the delay in e-tolling as a result of the court decision, government will take the necessary steps to ensure Sanral's financial soundness pending the outcome of the legal and consultation processes."

He said the Committee was exploring interim measures to assist Sanral in meeting its financial obligations.

He reiterated Cabinet's commitment to the user pay principle and its decision on e-tolling as an efficient mechanism of collection.