The Automobile Association vowed on Thursday (20/09/2012) to fight the introduction of e-tolling in Gauteng after a Constitutional Court ruling lifted a hold on its introduction.
"We remain committed to fight e-tolling in Gauteng and we continue to urge our members to not register for e-tags, as we still believe in an equitable solution,” AA public affairs head Gary Ronald said after Thursday’s judgment.
"This ruling shows little consideration for the serious impact that tolling will have on the already financially-stretched consumer and the added cost to business in the province,” he said.
The court ruled earlier in the day that an interim order granted by the High Court in Pretoria on April 28, which put a hold on the project, be set aside.
It concluded that the high court had not considered the separation of powers between the high court and the executive.
The government said it would study the judgment and make an announcement soon on the way forward.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) was adamant that there would be no tolling on Gauteng’s freeways.
"We are going to resist it with every power we have,” Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters on the sidelines of Cosatu’s 11th national congress in Midrand.
"In our view, it would be a huge mistake by government if it was to steam ahead on the basis of the Constitutional Court judgment and implement what we all know is an extremely unpopular policy decision,” Vavi said.
The ANC Youth League said it remained "vehemently” opposed to the e-tolling system.
"The tolls are simply unjustifiably expensive for all commuters and totally unaffordable to the working class, the poor and young people,” it said.
"Tolls will further weaken the already weak purchasing power of consumers...” The ANCYL said the State had a responsibility to fund infrastructure development and maintenance through taxes.
"Demanding further taxes to fund the same objective is tantamount to shifting the burden of delivery from the State to the public.” The African Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Front Plus expressed disappointment at the ruling.
"[The] ruling has huge implications for citizens wishing to challenge the way government spends taxpayers’ money,” ACDP MP Steve Swart said in a statement.
"The implementation of e-tolling should be delayed until [the] review application is finalised.” FFPlus parliamentary spokesman Anton Alberts said the actual problem had not been addressed.
"On a strict interpretation of the doctrine of the separation of powers, the Constitutional Court probably gave a correct interpretation of the law, but the actual problem with the enforcement of the e-toll system has not been addressed yet,” he said.
"The fact is that the e-toll system can only work if the AARTO system works and there is a myriad of proof that AARTO does not function legally.” Under the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO Act), demerit points will be allocated to traffic offenders and the punishment of repeat offenders could result in the suspension and ultimate revoking of licences.
"Against this background, the FF Plus will, in conjunction [with] other role-players, investigate the possibility of obtaining an interdict against AARTO, pending the proper implementation of the system,” said Alberts.
SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) chief executive Neren Rau said he was concerned about the impact on the cost to business.
"The [Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project] GFIP must... be economically feasible so that the benefits of using the tolled road exceed the costs. ”Sacci is currently finalising a position paper on infrastructure financing which would serve to inform current and future policy on the revenue and financing design of large projects like the GFIP.” Rau said the matter will be discussed at Sacci’s annual convention in October.
The African People’s Convention was also disappointed at the court’s decision.
"We view this as anti-poor and pro-business,” spokesman Patrick Sindane said in a statement.
"We still believe that the general public was not properly consulted and are still struggling to understand the system.” - Sapa