Sanral steps aside as interdict goes unopposed

The South African National Roads Agency Limited has opted not to oppose the interdict against the implementation of e-tolling.

Tolling on parts of Gauteng’s national highways was brought to a halt two weeks ago after the first phase of a court challenge that was brought by a group, including the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa).

The case’s second phase will involve a full court review of the decision to use e-tolling as a means to fund the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said on Tuesday Sanral was given 10 days to file an appeal against the ruling by Judge Bill Prinsloo that prevented tolling but failed to do so by the deadline on Monday.

Duvenage said it was possible Sanral chose not to oppose the interdict because it was unlikely the court would have granted its appeal.

“There is a resounding case here and there are serious issues. If the interdict was granted half-heartedly I imagine they would have challenged it but it was granted with absolute strength on all the prima facie evidence,” he said. “I don’t think leave to appeal would have been granted because the ruling was so strong.”

But Duvenage said this did not mean Sanral would not challenge the court review itself.

For the review to proceed, Outa’s lawyers must first acquire the full record of all the information Sanral relied on when it decided to go ahead with e-tolling. The roads agency is expected to hand over the information this week.

Duvenage said for the time being, the matter is in “limbo”.

“Our attorneys are talking to their attorneys about getting the record and the way forward. Their legal team is assessing the technicalities and then there’s the [inter-ministerial] committee that’s been formed at the deputy president’s level,” said Duvenage, who added that Outa did not yet have any information on what the committee was doing.

Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi would not comment on the matter except to say there was a chance Cabinet would address the issue on Thursday.

The Democratic Alliance’s Gauteng caucus leader Jack Bloom said the party welcomed Sanral’s decision not to oppose the interdict but warned a court battle could last more than six months.

“Sanral’s political masters should preferably cancel the e-toll contract now, rather than subjecting us all to months of uncertainty and a likely ruling against them in the court case,” he said.

Sanral has yet to comment on the matter.

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