Union calls for free-flow at toll plazas during violent attacks on highways
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THE National Employers Association of South Africa (Neasa) has penned an open letter to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula calling for free-flow at tollgates in the event of violence on the roads.
Neasa’s letter comes three weeks after several trucks were torched at the Mooi River Toll Plaza when #FreeJacobZuma protests turned violent, leading to looting and riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Neasa said the recent spate of violent attacks on trucks on the N3 highway has caused massive disruptions to the economy, the ability to transport goods, as well as millions in damages and loss of income.
Neasa chief executive Gerhard Papenfus said the loses have had a knock-on detrimental effect on the economy and the revenue of government.
“It is our understanding that the majority, if not all of the attacks, happened at or near the Mooi River Toll Plaza. It is assumed this is as a result of the vehicles being easy targets at the tollgate as they would have to slow down and/or stop to pay the toll or to queue at the tollgate,” he said.
Papenfus added that this being the case, it is their submission that should a situation of unrest, where vehicles are attacked, arise again, it would be prudent to open up the affected tollgates in order to allow the free flow of traffic, reduce the vulnerability of vehicles and diminish the ability of the attackers to sabotage a national freeway.
“Although this will have a short term impact on revenue collection at the tollgate, the impact on business and the economy will be far worse if vehicles are attacked again, resulting in the closure of a major economic route,” Papenfus said.
KZN-based agricultural union Kwanalu has called for the removal of the Mooi River Toll Plaza.
Kwanalu chief executive Sandy La Marque said the closure of the plaza during the unrest had devastating economic consequences on the agricultural sector.
“We strongly believe that the findings would more than justify the relocation or removal of the toll in its entirety. We call on government to acknowledge the risk that exists with its location,” she said.