SANRAL’s Western Cape tolling plan is outrageous
The ruling echoes the concerns expressed by other judgments against SANRAL over the past decade, which have also expressed alarm at the opaque and evasive public engagement processes conducted by SANRAL.
Section 195 of the SA Constitution is unambiguous on the values and principles expected of State Owned Entities and SANRAL has to now show commitment to those nine statements of principle and to stop using the courts and "lawfare" as a substitute for meaningful public engagement processes.
We have seen the abject failure of SANRAL's Gauteng e-toll system and how aptly the court of public opinion matters on such schemes. SANRAL’s failure to satisfy the needs of people affected by their plans and comply with the concomitant duty to satisfy the right of access to information is a non-starter.
Roads are long-term socio-economic infrastructures which have intergenerational ramifications far into the future. Consequently no effort should be spared in ensuring the people are enthusiastically behind these projects, and more so with those which attempt to subject the users to a road-toll tax, in order to finance these schemes.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) is furthermore outraged at the allegations of SANRAL’s plans, toll tariffs and their CEO, Mr Alli’s apparent transgressions of the SANRAL Act on the Winelands project, as have been mentioned in the City of Cape Town’s press statement on Monday. If indeed it is true that the CEO as not acted in accordance with his limits of authority, and that the Protea Parkways Consortium’s (PPC) toll concession included protection by use of public revenues to cover any shortfall of it’s expensive toll tariffs, this would be a most shocking matter and would warrant the minister of transport to take stringent action accordingly. In addition, we expect the SANRAL Board to urgently provide answers in a statement on this matter.
Now that the public have access to all information relating to SANRAL’s plan to toll the urban and Winelands freeways of the Western Cape, it appears that SANRAL’s decisions are dubious and bordering on undue enrichment of private entities through unjustified and exorbitant plans to extraction of funds from the public. This in turn will give rise to a serious public resistence and once again, SANRAL has displayed a lack of regard for the will of the people. Accordingly, we repeat our call to the Minister of Transport and the Deputy President to conduct a social audit of SANRAL’s behavior.