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Cosatu’s spokesman Patrick Craven is leading a frontier of civil disobedience in the battle against the controversial e-tolling system on Gauteng highways.
Craven, like many Gauteng motorists, has received SMSes and invoices from the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) urging him to pay his outstanding bill but he is unshaken.
“I am not paying,” he said defiantly yesterday.
“I obviously don’t know what every one of our office bearers or leaders has done but I refuse to buy an e-tag and I am not going to pay for the tolls.”
Craven said as a matter of principle and bound by the decision taken by the trade union federation to campaign against the system, he was not moved by the threats from Sanral.
He could not remember how much his outstanding bill was.
He said he was confident that many Cosatu leaders were also abiding by the decision of the federation not to buy e-tags.
“We believe that e-tolling is a wrong policy which is privatising public roads for profit,” he said.
Gauteng provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile had not personally received any invoice from Sanral, but he said his comrades had, though none of them had heeded a call to pay for the use of the highways.
“The stance is that we are defying it because this system is a daylight robbery,” he said.
“We are quite certain that we will be vindicated looking at the number of people who are refusing to pay for e-tolls in Gauteng.”
Dakile said Cosatu’s provincial leadership would meet next week to assess the campaign against the system going forward since its implementation.
“This is not a campaign of individuals so the collective will have to decide what steps are to be taken from here (on) going forward,” he added.
Both Craven and Dakile said the union would consider whether its leaders should publicly disclose their outstanding e-tolling bills as part of its campaign.
Cosatu’s deputy general secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, said the union’s central executive committee members will do an assessment among themselves when they meet, on how they system is affecting them.
He said he had not received an invoice or a message from Sanral requesting him to pay e-tolls although he said he had driven past the gantries on several occasions.
He said all Cosatu vehicles were not registered for e-tolling.
“I assume that people who are more informed will not fall for Sanral’s threats. People may know that it will take long for all processes to be complied with,” he said. “Cosatu’s stance hasn’t changed – that we urge people not to buy e-tags.”
Meanwhile, Ben Theron, the chief operating officer of Electronic Tolling Collection (ETC), the company tasked with collecting e-tolls in Gauteng, has resigned, Sanral confirmed yesterday.
ETC spokesperson Ann Mardon said the company would issue a statement later.
Theron’s resignation followed the resignation of the company’s former chief executive Salahdin Yacoubi in November last year. – Sapa