Cosatu marches against e-tolling

Planned protest march

Cosatu marches against e-tolling

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) will lead two planned marches against e-tolls in Johannesburg and Pretoria today (Friday). It will march to the departments of Transport, Human Settlements as well as the office of the Gauteng premier to hand over its memorandum detailing why the implementation of e-tolls will burden the poor, according to Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Vavi spoke on Wednesday, the same day judgement was reserved by the Gauteng North High Court in the e-tolling matter brought by the Opposition Against Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and three other parties against the Treasury, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) and the Minister of Transport.

Outa, as well as the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (Savrala), the Quadpara Association of South Africa and the South African National Consumers Union, want the court to set aside Sanral’s decision to declare certain sections of the Gauteng freeway network as toll roads, and the approval of the toll declarations by the transport minister.

This followed the court having heard legal argument presented by counsel on behalf of all the parties over three days. Judgement has been reserved until early next year.

Vavi has meanwhile said Cosatu’s memorandum will include a call to the government to properly address the Lenasia housing saga.

Cosatu’s Gauteng secretary, Dumisani Dakile, says the marches would be just the start of major mass action and that workers would pull down the gantries if the government did not listen.

Also on Wednesday, the ANC Youth League said that the youth should support the two planned marches to protest against e-tolling of Gauteng's freeways.

"Young people must swell the ranks of the downtrodden who will on Friday participate in... marches to several government departments involved in the e-tolling disgrace," spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni-Khawe said in a statement.

The league supported the marches organised by Cosatu to be held in Tshwane and Johannesburg.

"We have no doubt that this dreaded system will only exacerbate the social problems that the country is already faced with."

The ANCYL considered the public hearings into the tolls to be a "farce".

"That it is government's responsibility to pay for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project is undisputed," Sangoni-Khawe said.

The government collected billions of rand in revenue for projects such as this and so it was unreasonable that citizens, who were already burdened with rising living costs, should be expected to fund it.

On 6 December, the youth league would participate in another protest, which is aimed at bringing freeways around Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane to a standstill.

"The mother of all battles is imminent," Sangoni-Khawe said.

(With Sapa)

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