Anti-toll protesters speak out

30 November 2012 - 13:58 By Sapa
An e-toll outlet at the Brightwater Commons Shopping Centre, in Randburg, northern Johannesburg. File photo.
An e-toll outlet at the Brightwater Commons Shopping Centre, in Randburg, northern Johannesburg. File photo.

Protesters in Cosatu's anti-tolling mass marches in Pretoria and Johannesburg on Friday criticised government's plans to make people pay to use freeways in Gauteng.

Lucas Kobe, a Congress of SA Trade Unions shop steward, said although he did not have a car, he was against e-tolling because it would have a negative impact on citizens.

"We are earning little salaries as it is and cannot afford to buy most of our needs," he said.

"If the project is implemented, it would lead to an increase in taxi fares and food."

Dolph Monareng, a shop steward of the National Union of Mineworkers, addressed the crowd of protesters in Pretoria before the march, and asked foreigners to also join in.

"Comrades, this is not an ANC event, this is not a Cosatu event. This is an event for all South Africans," he said.

"Even if you are not South African, this e-toll system will affect you. That is why we are saying, even if you're our brother from other African countries, come and join us."

He told journalists government did not do "proper consultation" before rolling out the contentious system.

"They [government] now say public transport will be exempt from paying tolls. That will [be] no help because the food we eat passes through the tolls," said Monareng.

"This will affect everyone. That is why we have come here from different political parties, though most of the people here are from Cosatu affiliates," he said.

National Education, Health, and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) member Nompi Ngwenya said there had been no consultation with South African citizens before the project was approved.

"We had voted for the current government and the least they could do is consult with us before such a project, which would require people to pay in order to sustain it," she said.

Her colleague, Theo de Beer, also a Nehawu member, said government should rather have used the money spent on the project so far to upgrade streets in townships.

"Driving in the Gauteng townships is a struggle because one has to be careful of potholes, which remain for months without being fixed," said De Beer.

These roads damaged their vehicles.

Earlier, Cosatu's Tshwane chairman Johannes Clouw said they would not destroy the toll gantries, already evident on the highways, but would "take them down nicely and give them to Sanral (SA National Roads Agency Limited)".

This was planned for December 6, when a second march was scheduled, he said.

Earlier this week, Dumisani Dakile, provincial secretary for the Congress of SA Trade Unions, said the federation's members would demolish the toll gantries if government did not scrap the system, but later said that what he meant was that government officials who tore down houses in Lenasia should also tear down the gantries.

The High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday reserved judgment on the future of the e-tolling system, following a challenge by Outa.