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Cosatu has warned of more drive-slow protests against e-tolling on Gauteng highways after what it considered a “very successful” protest on Monday.
The union federation and some of its affiliates have embarked on a drive-slow protest against e-tolling, a system it says would be detrimental to the working class if implemented.
The protest, which started with a handful of cars driving slowly in the Pretoria city centre, caused severe traffic delays, as intended by the organisers.
Later the convoy, led by nearly 30 cars owned by Cosatu members and branded with the labour federation’s posters and slogans, also brought traffic to a near-standstill on the N1 and R21 highways.
Many drivers, especially those unaware of the protests, appeared frustrated when caught up in the huge traffic backlog.
Tshwane metro police deployed more than 60 officers on motorcycles and in metro police vehicles to marshal the traffic.
An officer was injured when the motorcycle he was riding collided with one of the cars taking part in the protest near the N1 and R21 interchange. Metro police spokesman Isaac Mahamba said the accident was the only incident during the protest. Demonstrators were marshalled until they returned to the old Putco bus depot in Marabastad.
“The accident took place on the N1 direction south,” Mahamba said. “Both the officer and the Cosatu driver were taken to hospital and were stable.
“The officer did a U-turn as he was helping to control the traffic but the driver did not see him.”
“That was the only incident to report, so the protest went very well without any major incidents.”
Mahamba said although many drivers were frustrated by the traffic, they appeared to support Cosatu’s stance and eventually accepted they would be stuck in traffic for a while.
“Most of them were hooting in approval and showing their support,” he said.
Cosatu’s secretary for Gauteng, Dumisani Dakile, said that the unions were organising more drive-slow protests around the province.
“There will be more drive-slow protests.”
“We want to make our point about the e-tolls, which is that the public is against them,” he said.
“We had a very successful protest today, even though the turnout was low in the beginning. As the day progressed you could see that many people were supporting the protest.
“There are still more drive-slow protests being organised and we know they will be as successful as what you saw here today.”
According to Dakile, it was too early to say whether the protests would make the government change its tune on the implementation of the e-tolls.
“It’s too early to tell, but with the many other protests that we are planning, we hope to make a serious impact and the more support we get from people, the higher the chances of having this e-tolling scrapped,” said Dakile.
“We are not backing down.”
The protest disrupted the morning traffic in the city centre. It also affected evening traffic along the highway as it was still taking place between 5pm and 6pm when many people were returning from work. - Pretoria News