Gordhan: Defending e-tolls has cost taxpayer R6m

Court cases involving e-tolling on Gauteng highways have cost the taxpayer over R6-million in legal fees, according to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

"The total amount spent on the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) case is R5 786 643.87 and on the Tollgate Action Group (TKA) case R229 568.00," he said in a written reply to a parliamentary question, tabled on Monday.

According to the reply, the cases involved the State Attorney and six private advocates, two of whom were "on brief for the full duration of the matter" over the past two years.

The controversial e-tolling system was implemented across Gauteng highways in December following a long court battle.

The question was posed by Freedom Front Plus MP Anton Alberts.

Meanwhile, Outa said ?Sanral needs to be transparent on e-tag sales in light of the impression it was creating that motorists were "clamouring" to be tagged.

'Hogwash'?
"Sanral's number of 1,2-million e-tags 'taken up' is hogwash," said Outa spokesperson John Clarke in a statement on Monday

"What does 'taken up' mean? If they are inferring that these are fitted in cars making use of the Gauteng freeways, this is misinformation."

On Sunday, the SA National Roads Agency Limited challenged Outa's claim that motorists were not buying e-tags.

Spokesperson Vusi Mona said it was sitting with more than "1.2-million e-tags that have been taken up" and that between 30 000 and 45 000 people were registering each week.

Outa said it was tired of Sanrals' "tit-for-tat" claims.

"For all we know, Sanral's numbers include tags sitting on shop shelves, storerooms and elsewhere, but they are of no use if not fitted to vehicles travelling on the Gauteng freeways," argued Clarke.

"The real question is why does Sanral not allow an independent journalist or auditor to simply take a look at their computer screen, in their operations centre, where this information is readily available?" asked Clarke.

Outa wanted to know the exact percentage of e-tagged vehicles passing under the tolled gantries per day and for the month of February. – Sapa

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