Sanral public participation process a sham - City

Dane McDonald

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has labelled South Africa National Roads Agency’s (Sanral) public participation process a sham as it fights a decision to declare toll roads in the Cape Winelands.

City lawyer, Geoff Budlender, presented his reply to Sanral’s heads of argument in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

The City has brought an application to have Sanral's decision to toll sections of the highway into Cape Town reviewed and set aside.

Budlender argued that the public needed to be given notice of the ‘nature and purpose’ of the declaration to toll certain sections of the N1 and N2 highways.

The public also needed to be given reasonable opportunity to make representations, Budlender said.

Budlender further criticised Sanral’s placement of only "one notice in a newspaper".

Presiding judge Ashley Binns-Ward asked whether the City "ever complained about the notice".

According to Budlender the Transport Minister at the time, Jeff Radebe, had Sanral’s input on which to base his decision but not the public's.

“The public participation process was a sham,” Budlender told the court.

Budlender further contended that the declaration should be set aside because it was a "procedurally unfair administrative action".

He criticised Sanral’s apparent assertion that the declaration of a toll road "is a mere gateway" and that the final decision on tariffs will come later.

Sanral said in its heads of argument that it could not undertake the bidding and tender process before a decision to toll was taken "otherwise nobody would bid".

“It is a remarkable decision,” Budlender argued adding that that the decision was a "play to suck in the bidders to reassure them".

According to Budlender the first decision is made with a ‘modicum’ of public participation when the City and its citizens don’t really know what is going to happen.

“They will not have the opportunity when the real decision is made,” he said.

About 180km of highway will be tolled, should the Winelands Toll Highway project go ahead.

Fin24 Source