An appeal to stop tolling on Gauteng’s major highways was refused by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
Judge Fritz Brand also made no order as to costs after refusing the appeal application by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa).
However, the SCA set aside a high court order which directed Outa to pay the costs of the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), the Gauteng transport MEC, and the National Treasury.
Outa, the SA Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association, the SA National Consumer Union, and the Quadpara Association of SA filed an appeal application to stop e-tolls on seven mayor roads around Johannesburg and Pretoria.
“The clock cannot be turned back to when the toll roads were declared, and I think it would be contrary to the interest of justice to attempt to do so,” said Brand.
The court held that despite everything that was done and said, the reality was that the review application was brought five years after the toll roads were declared.
“In those five years, things have happened that cannot be undone,” said Brand.
The “truly magnificent” highway upgrades would primarily be enjoyed by Gauteng motorists, but they would also benefit the economy of the country as a whole.
However, the downside was the R20 billion already spent by Sanral with borrowed money. The government had signed the guarantee for the amount.
Even with no toll money collected, the government would eventually have to pay the R20bn.
Brand said the costs would probably be passed to those who could least afford it and on whom the effect would by no means be trivial.
Disappointed Outa to study E-toll judgement
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance is studying the Supreme Court of Appeal’s (SCA) judgment dismissing its challenge to e-tolls.
“Outa and its legal representatives are studying the judgment,” Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said after the judgment on Wednesday.
He expressed his disappointed at the outcome on the merits. However he was pleased with the SCA’s decision on the costs order.
Earlier, Judge Fritz Brand refused the appeal against the SA National Roads Agency’s (Sanral) plans to introduce e-tolls, and no order for costs was made.
However, the judge said the order granted by the High Court in Pretoria directing the appellants to pay the respondents’ costs was set aside and replaced by an order that there be no order for costs.
The high court granted Outa leave to appeal against a previous judgment it handed down.
Outa argued, on appeal in the lower court, it had misinterpreted a section of the Sanral Act on public consultation to reach its ruling that e-tolling could proceed.
Last year, the high court ruled that e-tolling could proceed because the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project had been lawfully instituted.
Outa is a civic action group of business associations and individuals formed in March 2012 to challenge Sanral’s decision to implement e-tolling of the recently upgraded freeway network in Gauteng.
Outa believed e-tolling was illegal and unreasonable.