North West toll disputes continue

2012-11-08 18:54

Johannesburg - A meeting between Cosatu, the transport department and SA National Roads Agency Ltd about North West tolls was unfruitful, the union federation said on Thursday.

Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesperson Solly Phetoe said the three organisations met in Potchefstroom on Wednesday.

"The department failed to bring concrete proposals and responses to the meeting and a progress report of the so-called task team which, we were told, has done some work," Phetoe said.

The union federation opposes increased fees for motorists at the Swartruggens Plaza on the N4.

"That [road] was built using the taxpayers' money and yet the taxpayer has to pay for the same road through toll fees," Phetoe said.

"Workers and poor motorists will pay until Bakwena gets its money back, which we are told is at the amount of R3bn."

The union accused Bakwena, the N1 and N4 toll concessionaire, of wanting to profit from the road fees.

"Sanral and the department want Cosatu to accept that Bakwena will toll the road for 30 years and they also confirm that Bakwena will be able to repay their debt in 21 years - and therefore they will have nine years of making profit," said Phetoe.

Cosatu said the roads were not being properly maintained, despite toll fees.

"The [roads] are in a bad condition... we have potholes in all of them, including the same N4 road."

Last week, Cosatu led a protest at the toll plaza. It demanded that the payment of R71 at tolls be suspended until a solution was found which represented the views of poor people in the province.

It launched a campaign earlier in the year, calling for the toll fee at the Swartruggens plaza to be reduced to R20. It vowed to return to the plaza later this month.

"From 23rd November until the second week of December and on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, we will be there in full force with the support of our taxi industry and most of the motorists who use the roads on a daily basis," Phetoe said.