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Agri EC says judgement a victory for Eastern Cape rural road users

Mar 10, 2020
Agri EC says judgement a victory for Eastern Cape rural road users

Makhanda - Farmers' organisation, Agri Eastern Cape, welcomed the judgment handed down by the Grahamstown High Court on Tuesday as a victory for rural road users.

"Judgement was on Tuesday handed down by Judge HG Beshe in the Grahamstown High Court in favour of Agri Eastern Cape (Agri EC) and nine other applicants against the MEC for the Department of Transport & Safety Liaison and the Director-General, Department of Transport & Safety Liaison with costs," Agri EC said in a statement.

"The Judgement delivered, is the culmination of a long battle by Agri EC to get the Department of Roads to effectively attend to the poor maintenance of the rural road network within the Eastern Cape (EC)."

The organisation further stated that following an Order by Judge Smith on the 12th of May 2016 and a comprehensive Judgement by Judge Roberson, which was taken on appeal by the then Department of Roads and Public Works.

"This matter was settled at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on the 16th of May 2018, with the Department of Roads and Public Works proposing a Settlement Agreement and tendering costs, which was accepted in good faith by Agri EC," it described.

"Despite this settlement agreement being proposed by the Department and agreed to at the SCA, MEC Tikana then refused to sign this agreement. A further order then had to be obtained to compel the MEC to sign this order, failing which the Sheriff was ordered to sign this agreement on the respondent’s behalf. This is eventually what happened.

"The MEC and Department subsequently failed to adhere to most of the provisions of this agreement, which necessitated a return to Court to request that the Settlement Agreement be made an Order of Court, to enable Agri EC to effectively enforce this agreement.

"The most important aspect of this agreement enabled Agri EC to annually make input into the budget allocation of the Department and if dissatisfied with reasons given for any such allocation, be able to approach the High Court for any relief Agri EC may consider appropriate in the circumstances."

Agri EC said that it was mainly non-compliance with this provision, that Agri EC was compelled to bring this application.

Judge Beshe issued the following order:

1. That the settlement agreement be made an Order of Court.
2. That the Respondents file a report, on affidavit within 30 days a report on all maintenance that has been carried out on identified roads since the 15th of June 2018 to date, as well as to report on all future maintenance in respect of these identified roads and to report on progress made in terms of negotiations and possible solutions to the maintenance and repair of these identified roads.

"We now trust that the Department will engage proactively with Agri EC to resolve some of the rural road’s maintenance issues. It is not the intention of Agri EC to constantly bring applications against the Department, but if the Department does not now, adhere to the provisions of this Order, Agri EC will not hesitate to institute Contempt of Court proceedings."

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