Swartruggens protests over toll fees

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Independent Newspapers

File picture by Wesley Fester

 A protest about toll fees in Swartruggens in the North West, attended by about 2500 people on Friday, was successful, the Congress of SA Trade Unions said.

"The protest was a big success, more than what we had previously. We blocked the traffic for a very long time," provincial secretary Solly Phetoe said.

"Between 300 and 400 cars did not pay for the tolls at the most expensive toll gate after we demanded that no car should pay. This suggests that no money was made."

He said Cosatu in the province would return every week until the transport minister listened to their demands.

The crowd dispersed at 6.30pm and would return next week Friday, he said.

Members of Cosatu, the local taxi association and residents embarked on a go slow and blockaded roads in the area, Phetoe said.

He said locals had been fighting against high toll fees in the area since 2011, but government had failed to lower the prices. Local government had agreed to reduce the toll fees from R75 to R58 during a meeting in March, but that it had not been implemented, he said.

"The minister of transport has made empty promises to us."

He said the union federation was only prepared to negotiate a toll fee reduction of between R20 to R50.

Phetoe said protesters wanted the national transport department to address residents, lower the fees and repair alternative roads in the area.

"Several of the roads are in a bad condition and have potholes," Phetoe said.

The protest began from the Marikana toll gate and proceeded to the Swartruggens toll on Friday around 1pm.

"We will protest until 6pm today and we will return every Friday until government meets our demands," he said.

Phetoe said police were keeping watch, and there had been no violence.

 

Sapa


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