City of Cape Town wants e-toll report

The City of Cape Town seeks access to the complete feasibility report for Sanral’s proposed winelands tolling project, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

Ron Paschke, for the City, said the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) had been evasive as to why the city was not provided with this information.

Sanral had, however, not denied that the City was given the wrong report in the record of documents handed over.

He was presenting argument for an urgent interdict preventing Sanral from going ahead with the N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project until a court has reviewed the legality of the project.

The City wanted a court order forcing Sanral to provide certain documents it had requested on the decision-making process, to assist it in the review which was pending in the same court.

It was of the view that the transport minister at the time, Jeff Radebe, decided to approve the project without knowing the full costs involved, a decision which it called “irrational”.

Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said he was in possession of an affidavit from the minister which stated that the city had received all the necessary documents.

He said it could thus be a possibility that the minister may not have been shown or have been aware of all the documents.

Paschke agreed, saying: “We know there’s a mistake [between the reports we have and the reports Sanral has]. We know there are documents which the minister has not seen.”

In addition, the City believed there was evidence to suggest the environmental minister at the time authorised the project based only on its environmental impact, not the socio-economic impact on the surrounding communities.

The City insisted that the courts were the only avenue it could pursue for these documents, which it believed it was entitled to in terms of the Constitution.

Chris Loxton SC, for Sanral, argued that the City was approaching the matter in an “upside down” manner.

He said the City was against tolling as a method of funding upgrades to certain roads, as a matter of principle.

“We can’t tell the environmental authorities to consider the socio-economic impacts, when one first has to get authority to build the road before we can work out how to fund it,” Loxton said.

He said the primary objective was to upgrade the road.

The steps to be followed in this regard were to start concluding a concessionaire contract, calculate the total costs involved and then see if it was feasible to collect the funding required through tolls alone or through co-contributions.

Loxton said Sanral was not being deceitful as to cost breakdowns of the project.

It was simply “impossible to know” at this stage, he said.

He criticised the City for taking three years to institute legal proceedings.

The proposed concession route along the N1 extends from west of the R300 interchange through to Sandhills. The N2 portion of the proposed toll road concession extends from west of the R300 to Bot River.

According to a diagram on Sanral’s website, 106km of the N1 and 70km of the N2 would be tolled should the project go ahead.

Sanral will continue its arguments on Friday.

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City of Cape Town wants e-toll report