Cosatu threatens strike over tolls
Johannesburg - Cosatu in Gauteng is planning a strike and stayaway over the imminent introduction of additional toll fees in the province, it said on Friday.
"The PEC (provincial executive committee) has resolved to fight tooth and nail this system called toll gates," said provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile.
The announcement of the tolling system in Gauteng sparked a public outcry, with consumer groups and unions saying the poor would be hit hardest.
Dakile announced a "programme of action" to deal with the e-toll system, to be implemented later this year.
Cosatu would submit a Section 77 or strike notice to the National Economic Development and Labour Council on February 28.
Negotiations would then start.
It would call for a public march on March 12, a mass demonstration on all Gauteng highways on March 19 and a public meeting on March 26.
The federation would also call for a stayaway on April 8.
"We will also engage with the department of roads and transport, the premier and also within the alliance to reverse the ill-informed decision without consulting our people," he said.
Dakile said Cosatu had approached its alliance partner, the ANC, in November last year to be briefed on the tolling system.
"They also responded that they had never been briefed," he said.
The ANC and Cosatu then approached the department of transport in the province and were then updated on the implementation of the tolling system.
"They did not consult with Cosatu or even the ANC itself," he said.
However, he added that the Gauteng ANC's response to the tolling system fell short of rejecting it entirely. The ANC's provincial secretary David Makhura has described the likely impact of the tolling system as "disastrous".
Turning to Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele's comments on the system (he urged those who did not like it to use public transport), Dakile said Ndebele should experience public transport for a month to give him a "better understanding" of the hardships faced by most South Africans.
"The trains are always late and in some instances do not arrive at all.
"The introduction of the Gautrain in the province will not resolve the crisis, nor is the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system capable in its current form to address such a crisis," he said.
"Gauteng does not have a public transport system that is reliable, safe or affordable."
Earlier this month, the SA National Roads Agency said motorists could expect to pay 66 cents per kilometre before discounts when travelling on the 185km tolled freeway network.
Motorists who purchased the e-tag system would pay 49.5c/km, while medium-sized vehicles with the e-tag system will be charged R1.49 a kilometre. Heavy duty vehicles with an e-tag will be charged R2.97 per kilometre.
Motorists would get further discounts depending on when they used the highway and on whether they were frequent users.
Users of the 185km system would not have to stop at a traditional toll booth but drive under gantries, fitted with electronic equipment and cameras, which photograph the vehicle's number plate and measure its size.
Gantries are positioned between 5km and 14 km apart - an average of 10km.