OUTA welcomes new e-toll litigation
This will allow the Legislature another chance to scrutinize the rationality and desirability of e-tolling, in that the DA is arguing the Gauteng and other Provincial Legislatures have been wrongfully bypassed in having a say in the enactment of the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill by the National Assembly.
“OUTA’s court challenge has served to raise issues that were never openly debated at the outset, because of SANRAL’s failure to meaningfully consult the public,” said Wayne Duvenage, OUTA's chairman. “We therefore maintain the legislation lacks both ethical legitimacy, as well as formal lawfulness. Religious leaders, led by the Catholic Bishops, have already said as much with respect to the morality of e-tolling, while the Supreme Court of Appeal remained silent about the latter, in the OUTA application. We trust this latest legal challenge will now seize the opportunity inherent in the applications brought by the political parties and more importantly, the lawfulness matters as raised by OUTA are eventually assessed. We have no doubt that if reviewed on the basis of rationality, workability, efficiency and citizens rights, e-tolling should be abandoned.”
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) hopes that the Judiciary will be prompt in its judgment so that the matter could be expedited before Parliament adjourns for the National and Provincial Elections. “We are confident that in a free vote, the e-tolling bill will be overwhelmingly defeated. No self-respecting MP or MPL from Gauteng could support e-tolling after listening to what their constituencies are saying,” said Duvenage.
OUTA believes the e-tolling saga has the potential to enable the vital maturation of our democratic processes and the mutual accountability that must exist between the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature, to exercise their duly separated powers in the best long term interests of the country. “OUTA lost in the Constitutional Court because the court found that the Judiciary trespassed into the powers of the Executive by granting OUTA’s interdict”, Duvenage said. “We lost our case in the High Court and SCA because the judiciary was unwilling to make a declaratory ruling on the lawfulness of e-tolling, because so much water had already flowed under the bridge. The Judiciary could now do a great service to society by referring the matter back to the Legislature for proper debate, which is what should have happened at the outset, following a through public participation process.”
OUTA is in the process of revising its constitution to play the role of a civil action group that will institute social research and act as a support agency and citizen watchdog to concentrate on tolling policy and to hold SANRAL and the State accountable to its citizens. OUTA has gained considerable insight, expertise and wisdom about the many social ills of this country’s tolling strategies and policies over the past two years. In the absence of a truly independent transport regulator, there is a definite role for OUTA to grow into and play on behalf of society.