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Sanral slams City of CT over '4-year delay tactic'

In court papers, Sanral argued the city waited way too long to launch its review application.

The City of Cape Town legal team in the Western Cape High Court during battle involving the Winelands tolling of the N1 and N2 saga on 11 August 2015. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) said the City of Cape Town's nearly four year delay in launching a legal challenge against the N1/N2 Winelands Toll project is unreasonable.

The roads agency argued the city waited more than four years after a decision was taken by the Environmental Affairs Minister and almost four years in respect of the other decisions related to the project.

The City's review application is being heard in the Western Cape High Court this week.

It's fighting to have the project scrapped, claiming tolling will have a negative impact on the regional economy and the poor.

The City has been attacking the validity of a series of decisions that led to the N1 and N2 being declared toll roads.

But in court papers, Sanral argued the city waited too long to launch its review application.

Sanral said the delay is well in excess of the 180 day period prescribed in the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

The agency's lawyer Bruce Leech opened with this argument on Wednesday.

The City admitted the review application could have been launched sooner.

On the second day of the hearing, the city's lawyers argued the Minister of Transport and Sanral's Board failed to consider "key issues" related to the proposed project.

THESE INCLUDE:

*"The potential reimbursement for which Sanral would be liable: the concession contract addresses the risk that the National Minister of Transport may determine lower values than the concessionaire is entitled to charge under the concession contract. It provides that if this occurs Sanral must reimburse the concessionaire by an amount that will place the concessionaire in the same economic position that the concessionaire would have been in had the failure, refusal or delay on the part of the Minister not happened. The potential reimbursement is calculated to be R32,8 billion (2010 real values excl. VAT)

*"The financial viability of the project: the fact that the public will, over a 30 year concession period, pay between R44,9 billion and R48,4 billion in toll fees (2010 values excluding VAT)

*"The affordability of the toll tariffs: the base toll tariff in the draft concession contract is equivalent to 74 c/km (2013 values, excl. VAT). This is almost three times the tariff of 26 c/km (excl. VAT) of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project

*"The fact that tolling is a financially inefficient means of upgrading and maintaining a road. If Sanral undertook the upgrades and operated and maintained the highways on a non-toll basis, the cost would be R22,5 billion (2010 values, excluding VAT) as opposed to nearly R50 billion.

*"The macro-economic impact of tolls on the Western Cape

*"The impact of traffic diversions: motorists will avoid the toll roads and the City will thus face an additional burden to maintain secondary roads. Furthermore, the residents in the vicinity of the secondary roads will be adversely affected by the increase in traffic on these roads

*"The social impact of toll

*"The fact that toll would result in unfair discrimination as the residents who are living along the N1 and N2 freeways are predominantly poor and black, given the fact that poverty is still racially distributed.