Sanral CEO’s resignation prompts mixed reactions

There were mixed reactions on Tuesday to the resignation of SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) CEO Nazir Alli.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), which was granted an urgent interdict in April to stop the launch of the controversial e-tolling system, said it “imagined” the e-tolling matter might have been a catalyst for Alli’s resignation.

“Whatever the reasons, though, we wish Mr Alli every success in his endeavours going forward, and we look forward to working with Sanral to resolving the e-tolling issue,” chairman Wayne Duvenhage said.

“Outa is still fully committed to its legal challenge and the full court review… We are, however, also keen to work with the authorities to resolve this matter to circumvent the further waste of taxpayers’ money in court battles.”

Duvenhage said ultimately the credibility of Sanral needed to be restored as well as the country’s ability to raise the necessary finance facilities at the best rates.

In a statement earlier, Sanral board chairman Tembakazi Mnyaka said it had accepted Alli’s resignation on Monday. He did not give Alli’s reasons for doing so. Alli would continue in his post until June 3.

The Democratic Alliance said it was “encouraged” by the move.

“He has done the honourable thing by resigning after the Gauteng e-toll fiasco,” DA MPL Neil Campbell said in a statement.

“While he managed the construction of an excellent road network well, he is a poor communicator and we trust that his successor… will not only be an excellent manager, but also a good communicator.”

The party hoped Alli’s successor would allow “real” public participation before making “contentious decisions… unilaterally”.

Campbell said whoever took the reins would face a tough, uphill battle, and he wished them well.

The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) said it hoped for a better leadership at the roads agency.

“The FF+ is hopeful that Sanral will appoint a new CEO who will offer stronger leadership, that will interact with greater transparency and professionalism with the public in the fulfilling [of its] duties,” said FF+ parliamentary spokesman, Anton Alberts.

He said the resignation raised questions about reports that e-toll contractors were involved in an arms deal.

Last week, the Public Protector was asked to investigate the e-toll collection contracts after reports that “politically-connected people” may have benefited from the toll companies contracted to Sanral.

The Electronic Tolling Collection (ETC) consortium is the company responsible for collecting e-toll fees.

At the time, the DA said there were allegations of links between Swedish companies involved in an arms deal, and Vienna-based Austrian company Kapsch TrafficCom, which was the largest shareholder in ETC.

On Tuesday, Justice Project SA (JPSA) also welcomed Alli’s resignation.

“His resignation does not spell the ‘death knell’ of the e-tolling issue, but merely represents the removal of a single hurdle to progress on the resolution of this matter,” it said in a statement.

“Whilst Mr Alli’s dictatorial and often aggressive style has angered many over the years, it is interesting to note that Sanral has stated that it will not entertain any further comment beyond their media announcement.”

JPSA said this showed that Sanral had no intention of changing its ways when it came to communication.

Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesman Patrick Craven could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Sanral CEO’s resignation prompts mixed reactions