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DA, Cosatu team up against Cape e-tolls

Apr 16 2013 14:57

A drive slow protest against e-tolls in Gauteng. (Sapa)

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Cape Town - Electronic tolling in the Western Cape has forced the DA and ANC ally Cosatu to fight the ANC side-by-side in resisting plans to charge motorists for using highways, it was reported on Tuesday.

Cosatu's Western Cape provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, said that the trade union federation would support the DA's anti-tolling campaign, reported Business Day. 

DA Western Cape leader Ivan Meyer welcomed Ehrenreich’s stance on e-tolls and said it was time for the ANC and its Western Cape leader Marius Fransman to realise that the poor would bear the brunt of e-tolls.

The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) said the proposed N1-N2 Winelands toll project in Cape Town will be different to Gauteng's e-tolling system.

Gauteng would have an open road tolling system with no booths on the roads, whereas Cape Town would have toll plazas with an option for motorists to pay manually.

Last month, the DA-led City of Cape Town took legal steps to stop the project.

On May 16, the Western Cape High Court will hear the city's application to stop Sanral from implementing the proposed project.

On Monday, the DA officially launched its campaign to stop Sanral from building an e-tolling system similar to that in Gauteng, Business Day reported.

Turning sections of the N1 and N2 highways in the Western Cape into toll roads will severely affect the urban and rural poor in the province, according to DA leaders.

City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for human settlements Tandeka Gqada estimated commuters travelling to the CBD from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, Cape Town's two biggest townships, could pay double for taxi fare should the toll projects be implemented.

"The proposed toll roads will have a significant negative impact on the low income sector of the community who rely on the N1 and N2 to commute to and from work, and for business purposes," Gqada told Sapa.

"The districts affected by the tolls [are] Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, and also Somerset West."

The DA, citing a University of Stellenbosch study, said e-tolling could cost farmers an additional R5m a year.

Meyer said the rural poor could be hit even harder than their urban counterparts, given the effect toll fees would have on the agriculture sector.

"For example, a farmer in De Doorns transporting goods to the Cape Town harbour via the N1 for a round trip will cost him R744, and as we know 18 million cartons of table grapes are transported from the Hex River Valley... by around 5000 trucks a year, and we are speaking here about export grapes," he told Sapa.

"What we are expecting is that the rural poor... they will have fewer jobs, fewer choices and lower pay and become more economically vulnerable than the urban poor and we blame the ANC...," he said.

Meanwhile, plans to implement e-tolls in Gauteng has been met with mounting public resistance, after Sanral announced last week that it would start charging motorists using highways within the next two months.

Cosatu has been on at the forefront to oppose the tolling of urban roads.

The DA and Cosatu are political rivals and hold opposing views on several issues.

This rivalry turned violent in May last year when the DA marched to Cosatu's headquarters to call for its support for a youth subsidy to tackle unemployment.

Cosatu believes the subsidy will encourage companies to hire cheap, young labour just for the subsidy, and will retrench older workers.

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cosatu  |  democratic ­alliance  |  sanral  |  tolls



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