|SA highway tolling gets nod|
|Friday, 21 September 2012 00:00|
“The interim order granted by the high court on 28 April, 2012, is set aside,” Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said.
The project’s start was postponed amid the court action, which was brought by a coalition of interest groups, and threats of a nationwide strike by the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions.
The government immediately hailed yesterday’s ruling, saying it remained convinced about the “appropriateness” of the tolls “as part of our country’s investment in road infrastructure and our collective drive to grow the economy”.
It was not clear when the tolls would be implemented following the successful appeal, which was brought by the national roads agency and the Treasury.
The government argues fees are needed to pay for highway upgrades. It had already dropped toll rates by 40 percent and agreed to a cap of R550 a month for motorists. But critics say tolls will hit drivers hard in a city with little public transport and place an undue burden on the poor, even though the minibus taxis used by most South Africans will be exempted.
The tolls are planned for 185 kilometres of major highways around South Africa’s economic hub Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria. The Cosatu federation said it regretted the ruling.
“We oppose e-tolling in principle, as an attempt to privatise a public asset and force motorists, including thousands of workers, to pay double to get to and from work, attend family events, or to be forced to use slow, pot-holed alternative routes,” the group said. — AFP.