DA vows to use e-tolls as 2014 election ammo

The construction work on the N1 highway in Gauteng has already been completed. (Sanral)

The construction work on the N1 highway in Gauteng has already been completed. (Sanral)

The Democratic Alliance has called on voters to punish the ANC in the polls next year, if the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) goes ahead with the proposed toll roads on the N1 and N2 highways that link Cape Town to the rest of the Western Cape and the country.

The DA said it will also continue to fight the tolling of the highways in the courts and is prepared to go to the Constitutional Court in its fight.

Provincial minister of transport Robin Carlisle told journalists on Monday the DA will call on the people of the Western Cape to treat next year’s election as a referendum on these two toll roads.

“Every vote for the ANC in the April 2014 would thus be a vote for the toll road and every vote against the ANC regardless for which party will be a vote against the toll road,” said Carlisle.

“We, in the DA call on the voters of the Western Cape to show the ANC the real teeth of a functioning democracy. We must ensure that every voter in the Western Cape understands exactly what that toll road means to them before the day of the elections.”

Carlisle said the toll road project has been an ANC project from the beginning as it was “concocted” by the ANC’s national government, approved by the ANC provincial government and is being implemented by an agency that reports to and is financed by the ANC government.

'Deafening silence'
“There has not been one word of objection to the toll road from any member of the ANC and particularly deafening silence from ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman.”

Carlisle said, unlike in Gauteng, when voters go to the polls in 2014, the contract work on the toll road would not yet have begun, even if the City of Cape Town loses its court cases against Sanral.

DA leader in the Western Cape Ivan Meyer said the party will have an extensive campaign throughout the province on this. “We will mobilise all the communities, street by street and indicate to them how poor they will become,” he said.

“The ANC has now officially distanced itself from the poor,” he said.

Meyer said commuters from Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain would be the most affected by the tolls according to various socio-economic impact studies.

Both areas have the lowest income levels and the highest unemployment in the city (45.1%).
They are also home to the largest portion of the metro’s population at 24.88%. 

Meyer said based on the current tariff at the Huguenot tunnel, a vehicle travelling from Khayelitsha or Mitchells Plain to Cape Town, will have to pay a toll of R58 per day for a round-trip. This amounts to R290 per week and R1 160 per month to travel into Cape Town.

The ANC’s provincial chairperson, Marius Fransman, said the ANC is yet to discuss the matter. But he personally thinks it is best not to toll further in the Western Cape considering the poverty and economic situation in the province and elsewhere.

He lashed out at the DA for grasping at straws in trying to be relevant to the poor.

Urgent interdict
Three weeks ago, the City of Cape Town launched an urgent interdict against the construction of the toll road, saying that it needed a full understanding of all the costs and impact of this project. The matter will be heard on May 16 and 17.

Sanral notified the City on March 6 of its intention to start working on the toll project despite an outstanding court case where the City demanded to know the full implications of the project.

“In its notice to the City on March 6, Sanral indicated its intention to conclude a concession contract with the preferred bidder or if necessary the reserve bidder, at an unspecified time after April 20 2013.

“Sanral has also notified the City that it intends commencing with construction work, but it refuses to tell the City what work it plans to do, or when it will do it,” said Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater in the City of Cape Town.

According to Herron, the project commenced in 1998 with an unsolicited bid by Protea Parkways Consortium to Sanral, a bid to build, operate and then eventually 30 years later transfer some construction on portions of the N1 and N2 in return for a tolling concession.

Herron said in 2006, Sanral requested support from the then Western Cape provincial government under premier Ebrahim Rasool who granted the approval and support.

“At the same time, the then mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, wrote to Sanral putting on record the administration’s objection to the project,” he said.

In 2011, the City of Cape Town formally adopted a resolution to declare an intergovernmental dispute with Sanral regarding the toll road project, saying it was concerned about the socio-economic impact. The ANC caucus voted against that resolution.

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