San­ral’s toll road olive branch to Cape Town

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

CAPE TOWN — In a move that may yet im­pact on the pro­posed N2 through the Wild Coast, San­ral chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Nazir Alli last week wrote to Cape Town’s mu­nic­i­pal­ity to seek a “win-win so­lu­tion” and avoid le­gal ac­tion over tolling.

But at the same time Alli said tolls were the only way to fund a pro­ject to up­grade roads. This emerged from cor­re­spon­dence be­tween mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille and San­ral af­ter the paras­tatal claimed “her re­ply to their ini­tial of­fer showed she had no in­ter­est in the pro­ject” and was bent on drag­ging them to court.

Alli also main­tained in the let­ter to De Lille that the only op­tion avail­able to San­ral is for a con­ces­sion­aire to op­er­ate the pro­ject.

The let­ter, seen by News24, was dated July 17 this year and copied to Trans­port Min­is­ter Dipuo Peters.

It ar­gued why the roads needed to be up­graded.

Alli said he was wor­ried about the po­ten­tial im­pact of time de­lays and where that left the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of the city’s na­tional roads.

“A five-year time hori­zon in get­ting to a fi­nal de­ci­sion is sig­nif­i­cant. Five years is a long time in pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics,” he said.

“The city may gain a short-term po­lit­i­cal vic­tory if it wins the court ap­pli­ca­tion but in the long term the users of the road … will be prej­u­diced and will be­come in­creas­ingly frus­trated.”

He said San­ral’s work, plan­ning and money would be “thwarted and wasted” if the pro­ject did not go ahead.

De Lille told News24 the Western Cape High Court ac­tion to set aside San­ral’s de­ci­sion to toll had noth­ing to do with pol­i­tics. She re­ceived the let­ter a week be­fore the court case and dis­cussed it at length with her lawyers.

In her re­spond­ing let­ter with­out prej­u­dice [to the court case] on July 29, she said any col­lab­o­ra­tive so­lu­tion would have to ac­com­mo­date the city’s firm po­si­tion that it was op­posed to tolling.

The city said it would agree to set­tle the court case if: • San­ral agreed to an or­der of court set­ting aside the dec­la­ra­tion of the N1 and N2 as toll roads; • San­ral agreed to with­draw and aban­don the pro­ject; • A joint tech­ni­cal team was es­tab­lished to in­clude mem­bers nom­i­nated by the pro­vin­cial trans­port MEC to de­cide what in­fras­truc­tural up­grades were re­quired for the N1 and N2 and a timeline for their nec­es­sary im­ple­men­ta­tion; • The par­ties agreed upon ac­cept­able fund­ing and/or fi­nanc­ing mech­a­nisms; and • San­ral paid the city’s le­gal costs to date. In a re­spond­ing let­ter on Au­gust 11, Alli said he was “some­what sur­prised” she had at­tached these pre­con­di­tions. He asked what in­fras­truc­tural up­grades and ac­cept­able fund­ing/fi­nanc­ing mech­a­nisms she had in mind. De Lille said she re­ceived quite a “snipey few para­graphs” in re­sponse, ask­ing for clar­ity, and she left it at that.

San­ral spokesper­son Vusi Mona claimed at the week­end that her re­ply to their ini­tial of­fer showed she had no in­ter­est in the pro­ject and was in­tent on drag­ging the paras­tatal to court.

He also claimed the city was mak­ing San­ral out as a “mon­ster” that wanted to rip off res­i­dents.

De Lille told News24: “We don’t need to do that be­cause they are do­ing quite well in paint­ing and pro­ject­ing them­selves as mon­sters.”

The Western Cape High Court has yet to de­liver its judg­ment. — News24.

NAZIR ALLI, San­ral Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer “The city may gain a short-term po­lit­i­cal vic­tory if it wins the court ap­pli­ca­tion but in the long term the users of the road … will be prej­u­diced and will be­come in­creas­ingly frus­trated.”

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