S.Africa court agrees to hear challenge to road tolls
A South African court on Wednesday agreed to hear a challenge to tolls on major highways around the country's economic capital Johannesburg before the system's planned roll-out next week.
The North Gauteng High Court said a business coalition’s last-minute application to stop the project was urgent and should be heard before tolling could start next week, reported radio’s Eyewitness News.
“It is apparent from the chronology that the fate of e-Tolling was uncertain until 22 February 2012,” said Judge Bill Prinsloo, ruling against the state’s argument that there had been enough time to oppose the system earlier.
The government says the fees, which it has already dropped by 40 percent, are needed to pay for loans to upgrade highways.
But the plan has faced massive opposition with the court application by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance coming amid threats by the powerful labour group Cosatu of a mass strike if tolling goes ahead.
The body led a march in the capital on Wednesday calling on the government to scrap the fees which it says will hurt the poor.
The tolls are set to begin on major highways around South Africa’s economic hub Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.