TYRE makers in South Africa are waiting anxiously for a decision by the North Gauteng High court next week on whether they will be forced to subscribe to the government's new waste recycling plan which they have fiercely rejected.
The SA Tyre Recycling Process Company (SATRP), which the majority of the country's tyre industry support, has filed an urgent court application in a bid to stop Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa from forcing any tyre producer to join the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA's (Redisa) waste tyre management plan.
The SATRP board said it had gone to court because its waste tyre management plan was still awaiting approval from Molewa and therefore, she could not force the majority of the industry to subscribe to a plan they were opposed to.
The court is expected to decide on September 11 whether tyre manufacturers and importers would have to join Redisa, a move which would have massive financial implications for the industry.
SATRP board chairman Riaan van Niekerk said they wanted to receive a declaratory order as the deadline for tyre importers and manufacturers to join the Redisa plan is September 21.
As it stands, no manufacturer or importer would be allowed to trade or import in the country if they are not a member of Redisa.
"This means that customs will hold our stock at the harbour and our factories will be locked up. None of us will be allowed to sell a tyre if we do not join Redisa. The entire industry will come to a standstill," Van Niekerk said.
In a separate court action, the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) also lodged an urgent application to order a review of the minister's decision to approve the Redisa plan and for implementation of the plan to be restrained while the application is before the court.
Barnard Incorporated attorney Douw Breed, representing the RMI, said the organisation had serious reservations because it was of the opinion that the Redisa plan was flawed.
"We do not want to see it being implemented at all," Breed said.
He said the Redisa plan would translate into added costs to the over-burdened consumer and to the motor industry because of high levy fees. He also said the Redisa plan had sole control on when it would increase levy fees, not the department.
He said the application would be heard in court on September 18, ahead of the September 21 deadline.
Molewa had previously rejected the SATRP plan and this prompted the board to quickly restructure certain aspects of the plan, put it out for public comment and resubmit to her office in July this year. They are still awaiting a response.
"There is nothing that says that two or more plans cannot work simultaneously so we are very optimistic that the plan will be approved. But we want clarity on whether we will have to join Redisa while we await the minister's approval or rejection of the SATRP plan."
Van Niekerk, who is also financial manager of Pirelli Tyres South Africa, said the industry would need to spend millions to upgrade computer systems and in the payment of levies.
"With Redisa you need certain IT systems in place to have it work and you need to pay R2,30 per kilogram once you manufacture or import a tyre. With SATRP you need a different IT system in place and you pay R1,99 per kilogram for every tyre that you sell."
Redisa yesterday confirmed it had received papers from the RMI.
"Redisa believes that it is not the role of the court to force the minister to take these current comments into account on an urgent basis as this is the first time that these comments are being raised by the RMI," Redisa chief executive Herman Erdmann said.