End of the road: Sanral's Nazir Alli resigns
The board of the South African Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has accepted the resignation of chief executive officer Nazir Alli, the agency said on Tuesday morning.
On April 28, Judge Bill Prinsloo granted an urgent interdict brought to the North Gauteng High Court by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), to stop the e-tolling system being rolled out by Sanral, so that a full court review could be carried out to determine whether it should be scrapped.
“I make the following order ... the first respondent [Sanral] is interdicted and restrained from levying and collecting tolls,” he said.
Prinsloo said while he realised Sanral would suffer huge financial losses, the public would also suffer hardship if the controversial project went ahead.
E-tolling was to have started on Monday April 30, on 185km of highway in Gauteng.
Sanral’s chair, Tembakazi Mnyaka, said Alli would stay on in his post until the beginning of June, after the board resolved at a meeting on Monday to accept his resignation. She thanked the outgoing CEO for his contributions since the inception of the roads agency in 1998.
Mnyaka said the immediate focus and priority of the board was to ensure that Sanral “continues to perform its essential role in operating and maintaining more than 16 000km of national roads across South Africa”.
“As announced in recent weeks, processes have been initiated at national government level to address the variety of issues involved in the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and e-tolling,” she said. “The board will ensure that Sanral contributes to and cooperates with the deliberations now underway.”
Right person for the job
Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said he was sad to see Alli leave Sanral. “It’s always sad when someone of his stature moves on through a situation like this that’s developed,” he told the Mail & Guardian.
“I don’t think anybody will have been very surprised [by his resignation] but it would have been nice to see him fix [the e-tolling situation],” he said.
Duvenage said that Sanral, which has lost credibility with the public due to the e-tolling dispute, had to ensure that it found the right person to fill Alli’s role.
“Whatever they do that individual has a huge mountain to climb to restore the credibility of Sanral and to re-strategise what Sanral’s role is; to ensure that when we move forward Sanral continues on its route to building good roads for this country but doing so in a way that minimises wastage of public funds and expenses,” he said.
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven told the M&G that the trade union federation welcomed Alli’s resignation. “We feel that he was the personification of this project that we were so opposed to and we hope that this means the final end of the whole e-tolling saga,” he said.
The DA’s Gauteng caucus leader Jack Bloom said although he thought Alli’s resignation was appropriate, he also believed Alli was being used as a scapegoat.
“We all know that e-tolling started in the Gauteng provincial government and everybody is scrambling to get away from that,” he said, adding “At the end of the day, the accountability should be political.”
Bloom said it was important that the new Sanral CEO be selected based on competence. “We don’t want a political appointment, we want a technocrat who will run Sanral efficiently on a technical basis,” he said.