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Thu Oct 23 11:24:55 SAST 2014

All the latest news on Cosatu's anti-toll highway go-slow

Times LIVE, Sapa | 06 December, 2012 10:52
An e-toll gantry on Johannesburg's N1 highway. File photo.
Image by: HALDEN KROG

All the latest news on Cosatu's anti-told highway go-slow in one place.

Cosatu drive-slow over Sapa

Both groups of Cosatu's anti-toll "drive-slow" returned to their starting points around 7.30pm on Thursday.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions-led protest was to show opposition to the government's plans to toll major highways around Johannesburg and Pretoria.

One group started at the Mboro Church in Ekurhuleni, while the other left Cosatu house in the Johannesburg CBD on Thursday morning.

People who lived along the N3 on the East Rand stood along the road and blew vuvuzelas as the convoy drove past. More cars joined during the day.

Part of the protest was a truck blaring music while people danced on the back. Motorists on the M1 and N3 hooted in support.

N3 at a standstill Sapa

The N3 near Katlehong on the East Rand came to a standstill late on Thursday afternoon as motorists joined Cosatu's anti-toll "drive-slow" convoy.

As police tried to get the motorists to speed up they slowed down even more.

Journalists and other people were stopped from parking on the side of the road to work or take pictures as police urged the protesters to drive faster.

Meanwhile, the Johannesburg group of the anti-toll protest, against the tolling of Gauteng's freeways, was heading along the M1 north, past the Booysens off-ramp, towards the CBD.

Traffic was moving slowly as motorists hooted and pumped their fists out of the windows.

Protesters want the e-toll system dropped. Last week the Congress of SA Trade Unions threatened to occupy Gauteng streets and block freeways during the protest.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made.

Anti-toll go-slow impact on rush hour? In Gauteng every time is rush hour: Cosatu Sapa

Cosatu vowed to finish its anti-toll "drive-slow" on highways around Johannesburg as scheduled on Thursday, its Gauteng provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile said.

Dakile said it had negotiated with the police to extend the march by three hours, because it started late.

Asked about the impact on rush hour commuters he said: "In Gauteng, there is no rush hour. Every time is a rush hour."

With people in the stop-start convoy shouting "Viva!" around him, Dakile said he was "more than happy" with the turnout.

"We are not looking at the question of quantity, we are looking at the message that is being sent."

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) led anti-toll protest resulted in traffic congestion on highways around the city on Thursday afternoon with a cacophony of hooting and shouts of support from people on bridges and at the sides of the highway.

Protesters left early in two groups -- one from Katlehong in Ekurhuleni and one from Braamfontein in Johannesburg -- in an attempt to convince the government to scrap plans to toll the highways because it was unaffordable.

By mid afternoon, Jabulani Mcube, a Communication Workers' Union (CWU) member said: "We're highly tired. Exhausted." He was determined to finish the "drive slow".

Fellow CWU member Sipho Litabe said: "It's a bit tiring, but it's for a good cause. Let's hope government will listen to our pleas."

Another participant, who gave her name only as Tiisetso from the SA Music Rights' Organisation, said: "I'm against e-tolls because they're against me."

She said she used to work for the "e-tolls company" but had left. She claimed it used only contract workers and labour brokers.

Roadside workers and people in shops and offices stopped their business to watch the spectacle, which was massively marshalled by police officials.

For the Katlehong leg of the march, only one lane of the four usually filled with cars was open for the protest, which involved around 50 vehicles spanning about a kilometre.

Periodically, everybody stopped their cars and hooted, and got out and danced on the road, only to be hustled back into their vehicles by the police.

They eventually stopped later at a garage on the R21 highway just before Olifantsfontein for a long overdue toilet break -- the first on that route.

That group decided to speed up to 50km/h and not go to Nelmapius near, Centurion, as it was running out of time. The protest was to have dispersed by 3.30pm.

"It was [effective]. We are happy with today," said Cosatu provincial chairman Phutas Tseki.

He was also happy that "both black and white" were supporting the protest and he thanked everyone for participating.

One participant, Lionel Kekana, was briefly detained after arguing with the police about allegedly obstructing their work.

"It was nothing serious. We just argued with the cops. I'm very happy to be out. There's no air in that van," said the bemused 28-year-old Kekana.

Another person was believed to have been injured after being hit by a car, but more information was still being obtained about this, said Tseki.

Further afield, the other procession reached the N1 south. It would then, at the Diepkloof Interchange, move onto the M1 north to the Crown Interchange, then onto the M2 east and wend its way back into the city.

Last week, Cosatu officials said they would take down the gantries to show their opposition to tolls, but have since said they will not.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made.

Massive police presence for anti-toll protest Sapa

The Cosatu-led anti-toll protest trundled on around Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon to a cacophony of hooting and shouts of support from people lining the highways.

On the R24 near the Barbara Road offramp in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, cars joined the convoy of anti-toll protesters, including a truck which blared out music as it snaked through the bypass, which is intended to be part of a pay-per-use road.

Roadside workers and people in shops and offices stopped their business to watch the spectacle, which was massively marshalled by police officials.

Only one lane out of the four usually filled with cars was open for the protest involving around 50 vehicles spanning about a kilometre.

When they reached a gantry at the OR Tambo International Airport, in Kempton Park, everybody stopped their cars and hooted, got out and danced on the road, only to be hustled back into their vehicles by the police.

They then slowly took the split for the R21 to Pretoria.

Further afield, on the N3 to Pretoria, another convoy of protesters was in the area of the Buccleuch interchange, also approaching a toll gantry.

Last week, Congress of SA Trade Union (Cosatu) officials said they would take down the gantries to show their opposition to tolls, but have since said that they will not.

A truck driver believed that demolishing the toll gantries was the way to go.

"They should demolish those stupid things. We are already paying for these roads... and now they want to charge us double."

Johannesburg metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said no bicycles were allowed to be part of the "drive-slow" protest.

Vehicles which were not part of the protest and which blocked traffic would be towed away.

Protesters want the e-toll system dropped.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made.

Protesters have until 2pm for their action, according to the permission granted.

Protesters sing in cars in traffic Sapa

Protesters stuck their heads and bodies out of their car windows and sunroofs on the M1 highway on Thursday during a "drive-slow", Cosatu protest against e-tolling in Gauteng.

Some protesters sang from their cars, while others shouted "Down with e-tolls".

"I don't think the e-tolls is right for me because it's costing more money to me," said one truck driver, who was interviewed in his vehicle in the motorcade.

"I already have to support my children. I can't support my children together with e-tolls."

Another motorist said e-tolls would make citizens poorer.

"The salaries are not going up. If we have to pay extra for toll money... what's going to happen at the end of the day? People are going to get poorer."

Another truck driver believed demolishing the toll gantries was the way to go.

"They should demolish those stupid things. We are already paying for these roads... and now they want to charge us double."

On the N3, the protesters were supported by truck drivers, who slowed down to hoot, wave and shake their fists in solidarity.

The N3 motorcade stopped at some toll gantries and caused traffic congestion.

By midday, the convoy had considerably swelled and was almost at a standstill.

Some protesters began walking in front of the motorcade, but the police tried to persuade them to get back into their cars.

Earlier, Johannesburg metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said no bicycles were allowed to be part of the "drive-slow" protest.

He said vehicles which were not part of the protest and which blocked traffic would be towed away.

Protesters want the e-toll system dropped. Last week, the Congress of SA Trade Unions threatened to occupy Gauteng streets, and to block freeways during the protest.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made.

Cosatu anti-toll motorcades make stops Sapa

Two "drive slow" motorcades protesting against e-tolling on Gauteng freeways made several stops along the N3 and M1 in and around Johannesburg on Thursday.

On the N3, people alighted from their vehicles to sing and dance on the highway.

"Today I am here to express myself as a young person... I don't want to pay a lifetime instalment," said one dancer, Bheki Mhlongo.

"Me as a South African, I am no longer free."

While the dancing continued, one mischievous protester decided to put an anti-toll sticker on a police vehicle. He left quickly before the officer could alight and remove it.

Earlier, cars turned sideways and closed the N3 highway. Police intervened and convinced the protesters to continue moving.

Police confined the motorcade to two lanes, to allow other cars to pass. But protesters instead took up three of the five lanes.

Pinky Mnguni, chairperson of Cosatu's gender structure for provinces, said protesters did not want to be confined.

"We didn't come here to play. With this e-tolling they have gone too far. We will fight this to the bitter end."

The M1 north motorcade was confined to one lane. Traffic was slow and helicopters were hovering above.

Cosatu provincial chairman Phutas Tseki said Cosatu had no intention of removing gantries, despite calls for it last week.

"We won't think of touching even one gantry. When we arrive at them we will stop and move on."

Protesters want the e-toll system dropped. Last week, Cosatu threatened to occupy Gauteng streets, and block freeways during the protest.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made.

N3 closed by protesters Sapa

The N3 highway was closed for a short while by protesters in a "drive-slow" motorcade against e-tolling on Thursday.

Cars turned sideways and closed the highway around 10.15am.

Motorists alighted and began dancing on the freeway, while police, who were monitoring the motorcade, headed towards them.

Police spoke to protesters and the motorcade began moving slowly again.

However, some people remained on the highway and continued dancing.

Protesters want the e-toll system dropped. Last week, Cosatu threatened to occupy Gauteng streets, and block freeways during the protest.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made.

Protest smooth so far: police Sapa

A "drive-slow" protest against e-tolling in Johannesburg was running smoothly so far, the city's metro police said.

No incidents were reported, said Superintendent Wayne Minnaar. However, traffic was "congested" on the M1 north and the N3.

Two lanes on the N3 were combined for the protest motorcade, so that other cars could pass on the remaining two lanes. The two simultaneous protests began after 9am in Braamfontein and Katlehong, on the East Rand, on Thursday.

Pedestrians waved and fellow motorists hooted in solidarity, while police were positioned in front and on the sides of the motorcades.

Motorists in Johannesburg were travelling at 20km per hour, while their colleagues in Katlehong were going around 10km per hour. A police helicopter was monitoring from above.

Congress of SA Trade Unions provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile said there was no need to go fast.

"There's no rush comrades, we have all the time at our disposal.

"We don't need a thousand cars comrades, with the amount of cars we have here we can realise our objectives."

A number of unions joined Cosatu's protest, including the Communication Workers' Union, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union, and the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union.

Protesters want the e-toll system dropped. Last week, Cosatu threatened to occupy Gauteng streets, and block freeways during the protest.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made.

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