The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the North-West province has noted that since the 2011 COSATU national campaign against e-tolls the provincial campaign against the most expensive toll gate in the country and little to nothing has changed.
The last time we had a march to the Swartruggens tollgate we pointed out the economic hardships that the tollgate inflicts on the working-class motorists who use the N4 road. We pointed out the discrepancies in their tariffs charged at R75 for those using the N4 road, the majority of whom are working-class road users while the economically viable capitalists and farmers in and around Swartruggens are paying between R3 and R17 per light vehicle.
However, this e-tollgate continues to charge the extremely high amount of R75.00 to date which makes it the most expensive tollgate ever in the country. It is, even when our economy is in its deepest recession in a century. The unemployment statistics rate has been pushed to 44% and can even increase further. The fuel price continues to rise by day, and the working class continues to be rocked by this high unemployment.
Most workers lost wages, pensions, and benefits because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, this pandemic has exposed the reality that we live in a society where most of our people, the working-class, women, workers, and blacks, in particular, are living in extreme poverty, high unemployment and inequalities.
Yet, all these realities are of no concern to the Bakwena and the National Department of Transport as no means are voluntarily and consciously made to reduce the burden on the working-class users of the N4 road by decreasing the tollgate fee to acceptable levels. However, there is no alternative, user-friendly and safe road that is available for them.
It is for this reason that the Provincial Executive Committee of COSATU in the North-West has resolved that COSATU should return to the Swartruggens tollgate and fight for the workers and working-class communities that use the N4 road, who are being charged high amount tollgate fees that continue to extremely take out from their pockets.
Our previous demands have not improved but have been reinforced by the economic condition in our country and provinces. We hereby call on the National Department of Transport to intervene on behalf of the people, for that is what a Developmental State does as our government strive to become one.
We, therefore, call on all workers in our province and working-class communities in and around Swartruggens to join us tomorrow, Friday, 22 October 2021 as we go back to the most highly charged tollgate to demand what is in the benefit of workers and the working-class in general. Furthermore, all COSATU affiliates are urged to release shop stewards as we implement the decision of the PEC.
Let all roads in the province lead to Swartruggens to fight for what is just and fair.
Join the call to action – Join the motorcade against the most expensive tollgate!
For more information, please contact the COSATU North-West Provincial Secretary, Cde Kopano Konopi at 082 339 5836.