Cosatu e-toll march contradicts earlier stance

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town on Wednesday questioned Cosatu's protest against e-tolls - as part of a long list of demands - when the union federation's Western Cape arm did not support recent court action against Sanral's Cape toll plans.

The Western Cape High Court on September 30, in setting aside the SA National Roads Agency's plans to toll the N1 and N2 highways in the Cape Winelands, said it found it extroadinary that the Sanral board had no written proof of its decision to toll these freeways.

Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said Sanral CEO Nazir Alli failed to even attempt to explain the complete absence of a paper trail proving the board had in fact taken the important decision in 2008. The court set aside the decision to toll and the Transport Minister's approval of the project.

Cosatu on Wednesday embarked on a nationwide stay-away to protest, among others, against higher taxes, e-tolls and job losses burdening the working class. Cosatu said the demonstrations coincide with the World Day for Decent Work.

On Tuesday Cosatu Western Cape said in a statement the march on Wednesday was to demand the immediate "scrapping of e-tolls" and "the immediate implementation of an efficient reliable public transport system".

In its court submissions, the City claimed that, if passed, the Cape toll fees would have been set at 74c per kilometer, which amounts to three times that which Gauteng users currently pay.

Cape Town's Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Brett Herron, said in a statement on Wednesday "it is an interesting turnaround from (Tony) Ehrenreich, who in September 2011 in Council, led the ANC to vote against the City’s intention at the time to declare an inter-governmental dispute against Sanral and the National Ministers of Transport and Environmental Affairs about the Winelands Tolling Project".

Herron said in Council in December 2011 the Cosatu Western Cape leader Ehrenreich again led the ANC to abstain from participating in a vote about the City’s intention at the time to challenge Sanral in court about the Winelands Tolling Project.

If Sanral wants to continue with the toll roads it would have to start the whole process again and this time include public consultation, according to the City of Cape Town.