|Proposed toll roads on the N1 and N2 hit further problems on Wednesday when the provincial standing committee on finance condemned the agency’s public participation process as flawed and rejected the plan outright.
The committee’s stance echoed that of the City Council, the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Golden Arrow Bus Service. The committee also resolved to consider its next step, which would include taking legal advice.
SA National Roads Agency Limited regional manager Cobus van der Walt received a grilling from committee members and Transport MEC Kholeka Mqulwana.
He was told affected communities had not been properly consulted and that the toll roads would be a heavy burden on residents, commuters and motorists.
Van der Walt said while Sanral’s only legal requirement was to gazette notification on planned toll roads, it had gone a step further when it advertised a public notice in a mainstream newspaper.
But DA MPL Robin Carlisle said the advert excluded information such as how much toll fees would be. The newspaper was not read by most people in communities the toll roads would affect and even Mqulwana did not know, Carlisle said.
Van der Walt was taken to task when he replied that the information was contained in the project’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).
“The problem is many people do not read the EIA,” he said.
Mqulwana said she was disappointed by the official’s attitude and wanted him to show the committee more respect. Van der Walt’s comments were insulting and he should be told to apologise, she said.
Mqulwana said the toll road issue had created a lot of tension and that her department had received many queries from concerned people.
Van der Walt later apologised. He said toll fees would become public only after the tenders for the toll roads’ operation were awarded, but pressed by Carlisle, he divulged the toll fees details as suggested in a 2007 analysis.
There were low and high tariffs of R10 to R14 at toll plazas in areas such as Khayelitsha and Joostenberg and R16 and R23 for areas such as Strand and Bot River while the Huguenot Tunnel’s low and high tarrifs were R28 and R40 respectivley.