E-tolls battle rages on

Lobby group Outa has formally filed papers at the high court in Pretoria as it seeks leave to appeal the recent judgment allowing e-tolls to proceed.

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The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has filed its appeal against e-tolls in the Pretoria high court, the organisation said on Wednesday. Chairman Musa Strachan said the application for leave to appeal was filed in court on Tuesday.

“Outa members firmly believe that the grounds and merits of this appeal are very strong and that leaving the judgment unchallenged will set a significantly erroneous precedent.”

Strachan said the constitutional interpretation of section 27 of the Sanral Act required that roads agency Sanral should have given adequate notice to the public of the proposed project.

The appeal follows a judgment on 13 December by the high court in Pretoria which dismissed an application by Outa to have the electronic tolling of Gauteng’s major roads scrapped.

The court ordered Outa to pay the legal costs of the application. Outa also intended appealing this order. The appeal had to be lodged with the court by 9 January.

“Public participation requires that sufficient information about the project must be provided such that those impacted are empowered with knowledge and time to have the ability, if so required, to exert a possible effect on the outcome of the decision,” he said.

Strachan said in the e-tolling case, public participation was not possible “yet the court ruled that public engagement was sufficient and adequate”.

In this regard, Outa maintains that procedural and objective fairness had not been applied, making the introduction of e-tolls unlawful, he said.

The judgment also erroneously relied on a minority judgment from the constitutional court ruling and thereby misrepresented and ignored crucial aspects of Outa’s case.

“This misinterpretation of the constitutional court judgment had the effect of setting aside Outa’s argument that the minister of transport’s decision was irrational because his approval was conducted without knowledge of e-toll collection costs,” he said.

Outa’s founding members are the South African Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association, the South African Tourism Service Association, Retail Motor Industries of South Africa, the Quadpara Association of South Africa, and the South African National Consumers Union.  — Sapa

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