Pretoria - While Gauteng residents are eagerly waiting for the scrapping of e-tolls, their neighbours in Mpumalanga are set to protest against the hiking of their toll fees on the two major national roads in their province.
Like in Gauteng, Cosatu and the SACP in Mpumalanga are set to lead the protest action and have asked their major taxi associations to join them in their bid to lower the fees.
Cosatu provincial secretary Thabo Mokoena and SACP secretary Lucky Mbuyane said they would be protesting against the exorbitant toll fees on both the N17 and N4 Toll roads saying they would be leading the protest actions to raise the plight of the road users amid the extreme economic downturn and high levels of unemployment.
Mokoena and Mbuyane said the aims of the protest the two parties would be leading to fight for accessible, affordable and reliable transport and roads for all and call for a reduction by at least 50% of expensive toll fees.
In addition, the protest will be to fight for the total control by the state of national roads and the abolishment of concessions or third parties to increase revenue for the state, advance service delivery and road maintenance.
Communities who live next to the toll roads and are regular users to and from their workplaces should be be exempted from paying toll fees, they said.
The parties want public transport and other regular users to be cross-subsidised to alleviate the burden to commuters and other dependants.
Lastly, they want social labour plans by the road agencies that will produce beneficial results for the surrounding communities for them to sustain their livelihood to create jobs and alleviate poverty.
The protest actions today are expected to happen at Trichardt Plaza (N17), Ermelo Plaza (N17), Nkomazi Plaza (N4), Middelburg Plaza (N4), Machadodorp Plaza (N4) and Malelane Plaza.
“These protests are informed by the failure of the Trac management to find time to meet us as we were hoping to reach a common understanding with them. This deliberate refusal proves to us that this company does not care about the plight of the people; they are hell-bent on putting profits before the people,” Mokoena said.
He said the main protest would be directed to Machadodorp Toll plaza due to it being the most expensive toll plaza countrywide charging a whopping R112 for an ordinary Sedan.
“We therefore call all our social partners including the taxi industry to join the protests and also fight for their rights to use these roads without the heavy monetary burden imposed on them by Trac,” Mokoena said.