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Cosatu calls for e-toll protest

2012-11-15 09:10

CALL TO ACTION: Cosatu has called for a highway slowdown as part of its civil disobedience campaign to protest e-tolling.

Maryke Vermaak

PRETORIA - The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called for a day of civil disobedience on November 30 in protest against the e-tolling of Gauteng's highways.

Cosatu provincial chairman Phutas Tseki told a public hearing in Pretoria: "We believe that government has taken its decision.

POOR ALTERNATIVE ROADS

"So, that's why we have taken a decision that we want to march on all the toll gates where we are going to have civil disobedience with our own small, medium and big cars on the day.

"And we want to mobilise the society of Gauteng and society at large that they would support us in this action," he said.

Tseki said that if protesters drove slowly at the gantries, other drivers would be forced to take alternative routes.

"In our view, they are not alternative roads. They are in very poor [condition] and we cannot drive on them."

Cosatu hopes its "driver slowdown" could force government to build new alternative roads if it wanted to tax the highways.

‘DO THE RIGHT THING’

Primedia Broadcasting head Yusuf Abramjee, speaking in his capacity as a Pretoria resident, said there were no adequate alternative routes from Pretoria to Johannesburg.

Abramjee said: "Going from OR Tambo International Airport I have to ask which is the alternative route? Let me put it bluntly, the R55 is in a very poor state."

"Do the right thing. Postpone it and listen to the people."

Abramjee said capping tolls at R550 a month was small comfort.

The hearings are being held to give affected parties an opportunity to share with the government their views about the proposed e-tolling.

More than 200 people attended the public hearing at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. They were given a chance to raise their questions after the technical implementation of e-tolling was explained.

People asked about the prosecutions of offenders, enforcement and transparency in the building contract.

However, people jeered and shouted down most of the answers given by a panel consisting of the SA National Roads Agency Limited and the National Treasury.

‘FIGHTING A LOSING BATTLE’

At one stage, a man who felt his question had not been properly answered called for a vote of no confidence in the meeting and suggested a walkout. More than a quarter of the room followed him.

Centurion resident Corneleus Parkin described it as "pointless" adding that, "It really feels like they have made up their minds. It feels like we are fighting a losing battle."

In October 2012, the government and Sanral announced new tariffs for the proposed e-tolling.

The announcement, made on October 26, marked the beginning of a 30-day public consultation process, after which Transport Minister Ben Martins would have a few weeks to decide final tariffs.

This means e-tolls could come into effect before December 25, 2012.

Government has already contributed R5.75-billion to the project, or 25% of the total debt owed by Sanral.

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