Timing of e-toll bill questioned

Judgment has been reserved in the SCA, but this doesn’t prevent Sanral from launching e-tolling.

A motorist uses the N12 highway, a proposed toll road in Johannesburg on Thursday, 15 November 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

BLOEMFONTEIN - Questions are being raised about the timing of an announcement revealing that President Jacob Zuma has signed the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill into law.

This effectively allows for the controversial Gauteng e-tolling to be implemented.

The statement from the Presidency was released late on Wednesday as the Supreme Court of Appeal finished hearing a legal challenge against the multi-billion rand project.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) went head-to-head against the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) in the Bloemfontein court, arguing that the agency has unlawfully handled the tolling process and deliberately misled the public.

The news that the bill has been signed follows months of uncertainty and speculation over when e-tolling would begin.

The agency maintained the bill had to be signed into law before any launch date could be given.

Sanral CEO Nazir Alli received the news while attending the hearing in Bloemfontein.

He asked for time to study the statement before making any comments.

Outa's Wayne Duvenage says the timing is curious, but says they won't stop fighting.

Speaking to 567 CapeTalk/Talk Radio 702's Bruce Whitfield on Wednesday evening, Duvenage said, "They must go ahead and launch it. Let's see what happens. We believe it will fail."

He described the day's proceedings as tough, with both sides facing difficult questions from the bench.

Outa argued the entire process was plagued by unlawful decisions and a failure to consult with the public.

It called for the entire system to be scrapped.

Outa's advocate Mike Maritz told the court the public was misled by Sanral about the extent of e-tolling.

Acting on behalf of Sanral, Advocate David Unterhalter argued all requirements were met.

Judgment has been reserved, but this doesn't prevent Sanral from launching e-tolling in the interim.