Anti e-toll group the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said on Monday that it has “plenty of evidence” indicating the Gauteng tolling equipment is unreliable. This comes after roads agency Sanral warned high value corporate e-toll defaulters on Monday that they would be issued summonses this week.
It announced that the first set of civil summonses to individuals is being delivered by sheriffs in different jurisdictions in Gauteng. “The summonses will also include higher value summonses of mostly companies. Due to the amount owed in these cases, the summons has to be managed by the High Court,” said Alex van Niekerk, project manager for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.
However, Wayne Duvenage, chairperson of the Outa, said there can be no consensus for e-toll defaulters. “The fact that Sanral have determined the liability of the user in terms of their equipment that has not been approved, verified, certified and re-certified in South Africa in accordance with South African legislation, generates additional complications to Sanral’s case,” he said. “Outa has plenty of evidence indicating the equipment is unreliable.” Duvenage said the companies and people who may be at risk of a summons are those who have signed Sanral’s e-toll contracts in the past and have now defaulted on these.
“However, even in this situation, we know that many businesses would have initially signed these agreements under duress of Sanral’s initial threats of criminal prosecution and they will have a strong chance to defend their their rights of ceasing to pay for the unjust e-toll scheme.”
“We know of many businesses and individuals who have paid up and cancelled their agreements with Sanral and by doing so, have joined the other 80% to 90% of the road-users who are not paying,” said Duvenage.
“We estimate that between 60 and 70% of all Gauteng road-users have never signed up or ever paid. They have very valid arguments to defend themselves and we believe are not at risk.” The decision to issue summonses comes at the end of an extensive period of communications between Sanral and vehicle owners who neglected to pay outstanding debts, Sanral said. Since the introduction of the 60% discount of e-toll debt in November 2015, Sanral said it made it quite clear it will also introduce a process of debt collection against serial defaulters.
Sanral said the Electronic Toll Collection company (ETC) who run the system on behalf of Sanral have reiterated and amplified this, not only through the media but also directly to individuals through phone calls, e-mails and SMS messages. A civil summons must not be confused with criminal proceedings, Sanral said. “It is similar to not have paying any commercial accounts and should not be confused with a criminal case.”
CAPE TOWN – A long-awaited showdown between the City of Cape Town and Sanral is set to take place in court over proposed tolling in the Western Cape. Print Send to Friend 0 0 The city is approaching the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday to have Sanral’s decision to toll sections of the N1 and N2 set aside. Democratic Alliance provincial deputy leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and other party members are set to picket outside the building in Keerom Street to oppose the tolling scheme. About 180 km of highway will be tolled should the Winelands Toll Highway project go ahead.
Transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron said on Monday that the application could be regarded as “the trial of the century” because the outcome would have far-reaching consequences for the city’s future. “It will take all of us who are opposed to the inequity of this scheme to stand together, to voice our objections, and to fight to prevent it,” he said. “I am of the firm view that the proposed Winelands Toll Scheme is as irrational, reckless and dangerous to our future as the Gauteng e-tolls scheme was and is.”
TARIFFS NOT SET
Last month, the SA National Roads Agency CEO Nazir Alli told the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the benefits of the proposed project would far outweigh the cost to road users. Alli emphasised that, while the initial bid was unsolicited, Sanral went through a rigorous and competitive tender process to get to a stage where there was a preferred bidder.
“But the process is far from concluded, and the final costing still has to be determined. While the City of Cape Town in the past was at pains to point out what it would cost road users to travel on the planned toll roads, tariffs had not been set and whatever numbers are bandied about are pure speculation,” said Alli. The minister of transport will set the final toll tariffs, he said. Alli pointed out that the “user pay” principle for tolled roads was firmly entrenched as part of government policy. Herron said the city’s legal case was complex and ran into thousands of pages of reports and documents.
Essentially, it would argue that the transport minister at the time’s decision to declare the highways as toll roads was unlawful because he failed to consider the merits and impacts of tolling. It would also argue that the then-national environmental affairs minister’s decision to provide environmental authorisation for tolling did not consider the socioeconomic impact and was thus unlawful. The city is concerned about the impact the tolls would have on the economy and its residents.
“The Sanral board never made the decision to declare the N1 and N2 as toll roads as it was required to do. By implication, we will argue that the decision to toll was made by the CEO of SANRAL who was unauthorised to do so,” Herron said. Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said in April that it was “totally wrong” to say Alli took the decision on his own as the toll road declaration was made at ministerial level. Mona also emphasised that the sections of road were deteriorating and that Sanral wanted to start work on the highway as soon as possible.
One of South Africa’s most dangerous roads, the Moloto Road which runs north of Pretoria and passes through three provinces, has been incorporated into the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) road network. The government gazette announcing the incorporation was published on 29 July. Print Send to Friend 0 0 “This has given Sanral the go-ahead to make this deadly road safer. We are now responsible for the upgrading of the 93 km road – the R573 – which stretches from Mpumalanga/Gauteng border to Marble Hall in Limpopo,” said Sanral northern region project manager Madoda Mthembu.
With thousands of commuters using the road daily, the poor surface condition coupled with irresponsible driver behaviour has resulted in a high rate of crashes and fatalities along the route. “As the road traverses three different provinces – managed by three different road authorities – there were difficulties in maintaining it. We are of one mind with the Minister of Transport that this road needs to be made safer for its users urgently, and that this requires a single road authority to ensure sustainable maintenance to do so,” Mthembu said.
Government has set aside just over R1-billion to improve the road. The project involves upgrading the road to accommodate existing and future traffic, improved access roads and routine road maintenance such as pothole repairs, the cleaning of storm water culverts and the updating of road signs and road markings. According to Madoda, routine road maintenance started the same day the road was transferred to Sanral.
The rehabilitation phase will kick-off once contractors have been procured the design and environmental impact assessments have been done. This is estimated to be during the 2017/18 financial year. The project will be completed approximately 36 months thereafter and forms part of Sanral’s non-toll portfolio – meaning the road will not be tolled
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South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) plans to introduce e-tolls in Cape Town in order to fund road maintenance.
Mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, joins Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath in studio to discuss the legal battle the city is currently having with SANRAL.
Herron says the decision process that led to the adoption of SANRAL’s plans to toll freeways were legally flawed, and the city does believe that the cost to consumer and the economy is justified.
Are there other ways to fund road improvements and maintenance?
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Source: News 24
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The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) recently outlined the benefits of its proposed R5.3-billion De Beers Expressway, saying this would result in significant relief in congestion on the Van Reenen’s Pass route.
Sanral communications GM Vusi Mona noted in a statement that the expressway would result in higher levels of safety, comfort and productivity for road users.
The De Beers Expressway section of the N3 would be a 99 km dual carriageway, which would link Keeversfontein, in KwaZulu-Natal, with Warden, in the Free State.
Although the route was part of the N3 Toll Concession, it would not be tolled between Cedra and Heidelburg, and there would be no change to current toll tariffs on the road.
The route would be 15 km shorter than the N3 and would have flatter grades, a smoother alignment and fewer sharp curves. This would result in a 30-minute time saving for light vehicles and a 60-minute saving for heavy vehicles, as well as better levels of service and a reduction in accidents.
The route would reduce the effects of N3 road closures by at least 80% and remove bottlenecks at Van Reenen’s Pass.
Mona explained that the existing Van Reenen’s Pass route, which was built in 1961, was no longer able to effectively handle the growth in traffic volumes. Increase in Accidents The number of accidents on the route had increased in recent years, resulting in many fatalities and road users being inconvenienced through sporadic road closures.
“The existing stretch of the R103/N3 past Harrismith and across Van Reenen’s Pass will remain in place and continue to be maintained by Sanral. “Once the construction of the De Beers Expressway has been completed, there will be two highways crossing the Berg, providing all road users with an alternative route between Keeversfontein and Warden,” said Mona.
He added that, while businesses on the current route would be affected, not all existing traffic would shift to the new route.
Sanral expected one-third of the through traffic to remain on the current route.
Further, Mona stated that Harrismith would become a “boom town” during the expected four-year construction period.
The N3 route had been earmarked as one of the priorities of the multibillion-rand Strategic Integrated Project 2 that was crucial to unblocking economic development and providing much-needed capacity along key freight corridors in South Africa.
Construction of the De Beers Expressway route formed an important component of plans to develop the Durban–Free State–Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor, which was vital to the future of the national and regional economies.
“With Durban handling over 40% of the country’s imports and exports and Gauteng being the country’s economic heartland, generating over 33% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the Durban–Free State–Gauteng corridor is by far the most important economic corridor in the country and this route will directly contribute about R4.4-billion a year towards South Africa’s GDP,” said Mona.
Source: Engineering News
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