[Debate] (Fwd) Cosatu against tollroads and ANC ministers
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Mon Aug 22 08:07:57 BST 2011
COSATU shocked at minister's statements on tolls
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is absolutely incensed by the
statement on 18 August 2011, by Transport Minister, Sibusiso Ndebele,
that "the new toll gate system on major Gauteng roads is a done deal and
that it is just a matter of time before it is implemented."
This is the same S'bu Ndebele who as recently as May 2011 said that
following the widespread public outcry, toll fees would not be
implemented without further consultation. On 30 May the Transport
Ministry promised that "there will be extensive consultation before any
final decision is made about the possible implementation of new toll roads."
On 19 May 2011 the minister's spokesperson, Thami Ngidi, said that "it
is of singular importance to us that this matter, which has attracted an
outcry from a wide-ranging number of stakeholders, is dealt with
thoroughly and in a manner that addresses the concerns raised during
consultations. In reaching a final decision on this matter all the
inputs should be considered."
Yet just three months later, on 18 August 2011, the Minister told an
Infrastructure Development Cluster media briefing in Cape Town: "It's
done. The tolls are there, the money has been spent and decisions have
The promised 'consultations' never happened. COSATU, which by anyone's
definition is a 'stakeholder', has never been consulted, but simply
informed that the tolling is going ahead. The deliberations which are to
take place at Nedlac to discuss COSATU's notice under Section 77 of the
Labour Relations Act on the issue have not even started, yet the
minister is already prejudging their outcome.
COSATU is also appalled by the bizarre remark attributed to Energy
Minister Dipuo peters, that "those rejecting the tolls were the worst of
people who spent their money on comforts and not on essential services
such as electricity. People buy cellphones, they pay for airtime, but
when it comes to water, electricity and transport, people complain about
the user-pays principle, knowing quite well that we need resources to
maintain and operate this infrastructure."
What an insult to the millions of workers who have no alternative to
using their cars to get to work because of the lack of any public
transport alternative, and who now face a huge additional cost! This is
not a "comfort" but a necessity. And where is the evidence for the
outrageous suggestion that opponents of the tolls "are not prepared to
pay for service delivery"?
Opposition is not coming only from car drivers. The tolls will lead to
big price increases in the shops to cover the increased cost of
transporting goods; some companies may even be forced to close down and
retrench workers because of their increased transport costs.
If there is no change in policy from government and the Nedlac
negotiations deadlock, we shall be organising marches, demonstrations,
pickets and stayaways, and taking strike action if the tolls are not
scrapped. We are confident that thousands of other Gauteng residents
will be joining us in these protests.
The federation will continue to demand as its alternative to tolled
roads, an integrated, safe, reliable and affordable public transport system.
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