However, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward made orders that would effectively keep certain information under wraps until the court started to review the SA National Roads Agency Limited’s (SANRAL) decision to toll the roads. No review date had yet been set.
SANRAL applied to keep information confidential
SANRAL and its preferred bidder, Protea Parkway Consortium (PPC), had applied to the court to prevent the City of Cape Town from filing its supplementary founding papers in an open court.
SANRAL had wanted the relevant parts to be redacted, while PPC wanted certain parts to be redacted and placed in a “confidential” file out of reach of the public.
Binns-Ward said the city could file its papers per normal court procedure, but that no one could disseminate or publish the administrative record or any affidavit in the supplementary papers before the review hearing.
The ruling was welcomed by the Democratic Alliance and the city’s transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron.
Herron said the city had been vindicated and he would study the judgment to fully comprehend its ramifications.
SANRAL can appeal within seven days
“SANRAL has a period of seven business days to apply for leave to appeal, during which period the city will honour the undertaking given to SANRAL that it will not file its supplementary founding affidavit,” he said.
SANRAL had divided the content in the city’s papers into two categories of information.
The first category related to the proposed project’s costs, which SANRAL argued would cause “unjustified and unnecessary concern among the general public” if released prematurely.
It argued it would result in unjustified antagonism and bias towards SANRAL by the general public
It believed the city, in its supplementary founding papers, which contained expert opinions, was trying to convey that the decision to toll was financially untenable.
“SANRAL alleged that the city intended to use its supplementary founding papers for political purposes to generate widespread public hostility to the tolling project,” Binns-Ward said in a media summary.
SANRAL asked that the information be kept out of the public domain until it had filed its answering affidavit with its own expert opinions.
Binns-Ward found seeking such relief was unnecessary because all relevant applicants and respondents were bound by the court to use the information only for the review application, not for a “collateral or ulterior purpose”.
This meant the city was not allowed to disseminate or publish the information because it would amount to contempt of court.
Tender process information is still outstanding
The second category of information in the city’s supplementary founding papers related to the tender process, which was still outstanding. It included commercial information on the bidders, the debt funding competition, and SANRAL’s bid evaluation.
SANRAL had argued that releasing this before the review hearing “would cause harm and damage to SANRAL, bidders in the tender process, the SA fiscus and economy, and the general public”.
It said the disclosure of such would fall foul of SANRAL’s statutory obligations.
The court held the applicants had failed to present a factual case that proved this category of information should be seen as confidential, and thus no relief was granted.
Public wonâ??t have access to the files before the review hearing
However, the court found the public and other bidders would in any way not have unregulated access to the court file before the review hearing.
In May last year, the city was granted an interim interdict to halt the proposed project, which would remain in force until the review hearing.
The proposed concession route along the N1 extends from west of the R300 interchange to Sandhills. The N2 portion of the proposed toll road concession extends from west of the R300 to Bot River.
About 180km of highway in the province will be tolled should the project go ahead.