THE implementation of e-tolling on Gauteng's freeways has been postponed for a month by the Department of Transport and the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral).

The announcement was made late on Thursday by George Mahlalela, director-general of transport, just hours after the African National Congress and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said they would ask the government for a month-long delay.

E-tolling was to have been implemented on 185km of freeway in Gauteng at midnight on Monday.

In a statement on Thursday night, the department said its implementation would be postponed until May 30 to "finalise regulations following input on regulatory and administrative issues from the public and interested stakeholders".

Welcoming the decision, the ANC said it showed leadership and responsiveness by the government.

"It is encouraging to us that we live in a democracy where these issues can be thoroughly debated and discussed," added Patrick Craven, spokesman for Cosatu.

The North Gauteng High Court is to rule at 11am on Saturday on an urgent interdict to stop the implementation of the e-tolling system.

The application was brought by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance. There are seven respondents, including the Transport Department, Sanral and the Treasury. Cosatu has an observer present.

Earlier, Cosatu and the ANC said they had agreed to the delay in talks on Thursday.

"The leadership has collectively agreed to postpone the implementation of the e-toll collection system by a month," they said in a statement. "This will give the task team more time to explore alternative funding mechanisms."

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters on Thursday that the trade-union federation's entire central executive committee was united against e-tolling. "There is not a single dissenting voice," he said.

He said e-tolls would place a huge additional burden on all motorists, particularly workers who had no choice but to use cars to get to and from work because of a lack of reliable and safe public transport.

Cosatu has postponed a general strike against e-tolling planned for Monday. The delay will give it time to assess the success of resistance to e-tolling, and any future legal action.

Mr Vavi said Cosatu's executive was opposed to what he described as the "commodification" of South Africa's public road network.

SAPA