Come join e-toll protests: Cosatu

By Drum Digital
11 February 2013

Union federation Cosatu urged Gauteng residents on Monday to join in a series of "drive-slow protests" against the e-tolling of highways.

Provincial chairman Phutas Tseki said the toll resistance protests needed the support of South Africans of all races.

"We are requesting everyone's support, that is our message today. We know that the civic society is fully behind us in this protest," he said.

"What is critical about our march is that it is not only about black African people. It [the march] is about the diversity of African people."

He was speaking in Pretoria as members of the Congress of SA Trade Unions were embarking on another protest against e-tolling by driving slowly on highways.

Tseki said similar action would continue even though Cosatu was not involved in the ongoing court processes initiated against e-tolls.

"Even though we are not directly involved [in the litigation processes], we sympathise with those engaged in the processes. We are morally behind them because their win is our win."

He said further protests would be held around the province in future.

"We are saying to government, we the workers are not happy. The development of the transformation agenda is going astray from what we expected in 1994," Tseki said.

"We had the view that we were going to have free education [and] free movement on the roads. Government now wants to exclude some sections of society from these roads."

He said the labour federation hoped the transport department would "rescind its decision and review what they are saying".

The protesters' convoy and the police escort reached the N1 before 3pm.

Earlier, the convoy caused lengthy blockages in Pretoria central as the drive-slow protest made its way from Marabastad on the outskirts of the city.

The protesters got out of their vehicles at the transport department offices, along Struben Street, and started singing and dancing.

The protest convoy, accompanied by different police units, blocked off busy junctions in Pretoria, such as the corner of Nelson Mandela Drive and Francis Baard Street.

Some were blowing vuvuzelas and waving placards.

Some of the placards read: "Stop highway robbery, smash the e-tolls".

Others read, "Our roads have being seized by mafias" and "Voetsek e-toll voetsek".

The protest started at the old Putco bus depot in Pretoria's Marabastad in the morning and would head onto the N1 towards Johannesburg.

Earlier, Cosatu Gauteng provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile said despite the low attendance at the protest, a clear message of resistance would be sent to government.

"This action is going to be very effective. Here, we are not concerned about quantity, but quality," said Dakile.

"We are going to be driving very slowly. There is no rush today in South Africa. The main target today is the N4, R21, and the N1 [highways]," he said.

Last month, Dakile said the protest action would be carried out in other provinces as well to ensure it became a "national act".

On January 25, the High Court in Pretoria granted the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) leave to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Outa had applied to appeal against a December 13, 2012, judgment, which dismissed its bid to have the electronic tolling of Gauteng's major roads scrapped.


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