Toll protests will be effective despite poor attendance – Cosatu
The series of “drive-slow protests” against e-tolls will eventually ensure the system is scrapped, Cosatu Gauteng provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile has said.
He told protesters in Pretoria today that despite the poor 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.
Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial chairman Phutas Tseki 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,” he 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.”
Tseki said the labour federation hoped the transport department would “rescind its decision and review what they are saying”.
The protest convoy, accompanied by different police units, caused massive congestion of traffic in Pretoria as protesters blocked busy junctions, such as the corner of Nelson Mandela Drive and Francis Baard Street.
The protest gathered momentum before 10am as the drive-slow fleet headed into the city centre from Marabastad, on the outskirts of Pretoria.
The protesters got out of their vehicles at the transport department offices, along Struben Street, and started singing and dancing.
Some were blowing vuvuzelas and waving placards.
Some of the placards read: “Stop highway robbery, smash the e-tolls“. Others read, “Reclaim our nation’s roads, demolish e-tolls, not people’s houses”.
The protest started at the old Putco bus depot in Pretoria’s Marabastad in the morning and would head onto the N1 towards Johannesburg.
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 a December 13, 2012, judgment, which dismissed its bid to have the electronic tolling of Gauteng’s major roads scrapped.