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E-toll protesters sing in cars in traffic

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iol news pic Cosatu e toll protest 1

@_cosatu/Twitter

The N3 highway was closed for a short while by protesters in a drive-slow motorcade against e-tolling. Photo: @_cosatu/Twitter

Johannesburg - Two “drive slow” motorcades protesting against e-tolling on Gauteng freeways made several stops along the N3 and M1 in and around Johannesburg on Thursday.

On the N3, people alighted from their vehicles to sing and dance on the highway.

“Today I am here to express myself as a young person... I don't want to pay a lifetime instalment,” said one dancer, Bheki Mhlongo.

“Me as a South African, I am no longer free.”

While the dancing continued, one mischievous protester decided to put an anti-toll sticker on a police vehicle. He left quickly before the officer could alight and remove it.

Earlier, cars turned sideways and closed the N3 highway. Police intervened and convinced the protesters to continue moving.

Police confined the motorcade to two lanes, to allow other cars to pass. But protesters instead took up three of the five lanes.

Pinky Mnguni, chairperson of Cosatu's gender structure for provinces, said protesters did not want to be confined.

“We didn't come here to play. With this e-tolling they have gone too far. We will fight this to the bitter end.”

The M1 north motorcade was confined to one lane. Traffic was slow and helicopters were hovering above.

Cosatu provincial chairman Phutas Tseki said Cosatu had no intention of removing gantries, despite calls for it last week.

“We won't think of touching even one gantry. When we arrive at them we will stop and move on.”

Protesters stuck their heads and bodies out of their car windows and sunroofs on the M1 highway.

Some protesters sang from their cars, while others shouted “Down with e-tolls”.

“I don't think the e-tolls is right for me because it's costing more money to me,” said one truck driver, who was interviewed in his vehicle in the motorcade.

“I already have to support my children. I can't support my children together with e-tolls.”

Another motorist said e-tolls would make citizens poorer.

“The salaries are not going up. If we have to pay extra for toll money... what's going to happen at the end of the day? People are going to get poorer.”

Another truck driver believed demolishing the toll gantries was the way to go.

“They should demolish those stupid things. We are already paying for these roads... and now they want to charge us double.”

On the N3, the protesters were supported by truck drivers, who slowed down to hoot, wave and shake their fists in solidarity.

The N3 motorcade stopped at some toll gantries and caused traffic congestion.

By midday, the convoy had considerably swelled and was almost at a standstill.

Some protesters began walking in front of the motorcade, but the police tried to persuade them to get back into their cars.

Earlier, Johannesburg metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said no bicycles were allowed to be part of the “drive-slow” protest.

He said vehicles which were not part of the protest and which blocked traffic would be towed away.

Protesters want the e-toll system dropped. Last week, the Congress of SA Trade Unions threatened to occupy Gauteng streets, and to block freeways during the protest.

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


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