Tolls will ‘milk’ the public: Cosatu

By Drum Digital
06 March 2012

The private operator of Gauteng's controversial tolls is going to "milk" the public, the Congress of SA Trade Unions said in a memorandum prepared for handing over during its anti-toll protest on Wednesday.

"All the evidence indicates that the revenues from the tolls are going to be enormous, and that the loans will be paid off quickly, leaving the private operator to milk the public," the memorandum reads.

Demanding the dismantling of the 42 toll gantries already straddling the N1, N3, N12, and R21, Cosatu said if more money was put into stopping fraud and corruption, government would easily have enough to fund road construction and maintenance.

According to the memorandum, to be delivered to government representatives in every province, the trade union federation is opposed to the tolls for the following reasons:

-- They will make it more expensive for the poor to travel by road, and will also increase food inflation by adding to the cost of transporting goods in and out of Gauteng;

-- Toll roads will further exclude the poor and create divisions;

-- Public transport is still "woefully inadequate" with a third of workers using their private cars to get to work.

"This is not a free choice. It is because our public transport system is expensive, unsafe, and unreliable," the memorandum reads.

Besides the Bus Rapid Transit System put in place in Johannesburg and Cape Town, there had not been any new subsidised bus route in over 10 years, Cosatu said.

-- Finally, Cosatu believes that having the private sector operate the toll roads is the same as privatisation, which the federation opposes.

"We pay taxes so that government can build and maintain roads, hospitals, schools, etc.

"For all of the above reasons, we demand the dismantling of the Gauteng motorway gantries, and the immediate halting, for good, of the Gauteng open tolls."

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