Claims made by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance at a press conference and in media interviews following the Supreme Court of Appeal’s dismissal of their application are inflammatory and fly in the face of nation building.
In various media interviews this week OUTA Chairman Wayne Duvenage made claims around the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) which have shocked the South African National Road Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL).
“Some of them are misinformation, some of them are just ball-faced lies,” SANRAL spokesman Vusi Mona said.
“It is concerning that OUTA continues to do this. It is one thing to fight a legal battle which you believe in but it is another all together to spread lies and incorrect information. Some of it borders on incitement and some of it amounts to shouting ‘fire’ in a packed cinema hall. Frankly, it is downright irresponsible, especially coming from a former captain of industry like Mr Duvenhage who should be familiar with the user-pays principle.”
Mona urged residents to remember that SANRAL had consulted with various experts in their fields in the planning and construction of GFIP.
“Mr Duvenage is neither an engineer nor a lawyer and we would implore him to stop commenting on issues which fall outside his expertise. We would also ask him to refrain from making statements on behalf of various stakeholders without their knowledge or buy in,” Mona said.
On Thursday OUTA made the outrageous claim that roads in Johannesburg would become death traps as trucking companies choose to avoid the Gauteng highway network and toll gantries. However the Road Freight Association (RFA) has already refuted this claim and did so again this week.
RFA spokesman Gavin Kelly however confirmed publically that trucks would not skip tolls. Kelly also highlighted the fact that the RFA had previously engaged with SANRAL and the Department of Transport in order to reduce tariff rates. Another fact which flies in the face of claims that SANRAL has steamrolled GFIP without any consultation.
OUTA and other opponents of e-tolling have also begun calls for civil disobedience, in effect calling on members of the public to break the law.
“SANRAL would like to reiterate Cabinet’s call on all law abiding citizens to purchase e-tags to ensure that they qualify for the discounts on e-tolling which have been put in place. E-tolling is government policy and has been signed into law. OUTA’s claims that the courts of the land have not looked at the merits of their case are also concerning. One would hope that they would have accepted the decision of the court or exercised their legal rights,” Mona said.
“It is time for us as a country to move forward and ensure the success of one of the biggest infrastructure developments in the history of this nation.”