Cosatu’s “drive-slow” protest against the tolling of Gauteng freeways was a success on Thursday, the union federation’s Gauteng secretary, Dumisani Dakile, said.
“As Cosatu we are very happy. The ‘drive-slow’ was more than successful and raised awareness of the fight,” he said.
“This fight is not a fight for Cosatu only, it is a fight for South Africa.”
Dakile said Cosatu would continue its fight until the e-tolling was scrapped.
Transport Department spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said the government noted the protest and respected the right of individuals and organisations to protest.
He said the department had consulted the public when the process began in 2007.
“All matters of concern were adequately addressed with concerned parties in all these sessions,” Rikhotso said.
“Assertions that this project is being forced on South Africans are therefore devoid of truth.”
The Cosatu-led protest was aimed at demonstrating the level of opposition to the government’s plans to toll major highways around Joburg and Pretoria.
Two convoys of vehicles drove at 20km/h on major highways around Joburg and Ekurhuleni.
Protesters sang and danced as police urged them to speed up.
Stickers were handed to motorists that read: “Demolish e-tolls not houses”, “Crash privatisation, open national roads”, “Reclaim our national roads”, and “Don’t register with Sanral, don’t buy e-tags”.
Joburg Metro Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said traffic was affected throughout the day.
“Traffic was congested on the M1. The action caused the traffic on the highways to back-up,” Minnaar said.
Shortly after the convoys reached Masakhane Street in Katlehong, Cosatu’s provincial chairman, Phutas Tseki, thanked the police, unions and motorists for the success of the “drive-slow”.
“We are coming here in February and closing down all the e-tolls,” he told the group.
Last week, Cosatu threatened to occupy Gauteng streets and block freeways if it did not receive a positive response to memorandums handed to several departments.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made. – Sapa