Friday, April 27, 2012
E-TOLL speed bump April 27 2012 at 09:00am -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ANGELIQUE SERRAO firstname.lastname@example.org After hours of listening to Sanral, Treasury and Transport Department attorneys arguing that any further delays in the implementation of e-tolling would be disastrous for the economy, Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi tweeted that the ANC had decided to postpone tolling by a month. Soon afterwards, the ANC and Cosatu made a joint statement that the decision was made after a meeting in which alternative funding models were discussed. This latest delay is the fifth time e-tolling has been postponed in just more than a year. It is difficult to say what impact this could have on Judge Bill Prinsloo’s ruling, due to be announced tomorrow. Judge Prinsloo has to decide whether to grant the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance’s request to delay e-tolling for as long as it takes for a full case on the legality of e-tolls to be heard by a court. Vavi tweeted: “ANC and Cosatu leadership agreed to postpone implementation date for etolls by month to allow task team more time to explore alternative funding.” The tweet came through seconds after the final responding arguments were made by the alliance’s Alfred Cockrell SC. This means that this latest postponement was not communicated to Judge Prinsloo in court, so it is unclear whether he can consider it in his judgment. Sanral CEO Nazir Alli and manager Alex van Niekerk must have known something was up, because as Cockrell was making his arguments, they kept on leaving the courtroom with worried looks on their faces. Once court ended, the ANC and Cosatu’s decision to postpone e-tolling for a month was the topic of conversation, with alliance members wondering what effect this would have on their case. They, along with the public, will now have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out, because that is when Judge Prinsloo will give his judgment. This was an unexpected twist to a day filled with legal arguments and one or two diversions. The first was when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan quietly slipped into court, sat for a bit and listened before slipping out again. The other was a group of theatrical dancers who stripped to their underpants, saying they were taking an e-shower. When police showed up, they quickly dressed and said they were there to add their voices to the anti e-toll debate. At least two hours were spent by the state trying to stop the interdict from going ahead, much of it focused on the risk to the economy if there was any delay – all strangely contradictory to the ANC/Cosatu statement released while argument was under way. Sanral attorney David Unterhalter SC said the granting of the interdict would cause Sanral to suffer irreparable harm because it would be unable to raise funds on the international market. “This will reverberate through the financial markets. Damage that is done in months will take years to rehabilitate. Greece knows about this,” he said. For every month e-tolling was delayed, he said, Sanral would lose R220 million. “My client considers that a massive amount of money. They are asking us to close the shop door and that is a very serious thing to ask a court to do,” Unterhalter said. “They (the alliance) are trying to turn off the tap for my client’s income stream.” The Treasury’s Jeremy Gauntlett SC made further arguments about the potential harm to the economy. “These are decisions that were made nobly (declaration of tolling), and it does not rest with campaigners who are not successful politically to question that,” said Gauntlett. He said that if even one month of Sanral defaulting on its debt was to go by, the government would have to cover the entire R20 billion debt. “Inevitably other projects will then suffer,” Gauntlett said. “We are at a time of high financial instability. Since 1985, the country has never had a debt default.” He added that if the interdict was granted, it would last not just a few months, because it would take well into next year for a full case on the legality of e-tolling to be heard. See Page 2 The Star Comments by Sonn Fellons always cry foil in SA. It's pay back time for the perpetrators!! God help ou 18 year old "FREEDOM" without DEMOCRACY & TRANSPARENCY!!