Cosatu demonstrates over high tolls and fuel at the Machado Toll Plaza

Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) members have demonstrated at the Machadodorp Toll Plaza in Mpumalanga over high toll fees and fuel prices.

Members have handed a memorandum of their grievances to Toll Plaza management, Trans African Concessions (TRAC), which runs the Machadodorp Toll Plaza which is among the most expensive tolls in the country.

Machadodorp Toll Plaza was disrupted while members of Cosatu demonstrated, causing a traffic jam that affected motorists driving west to the Highveld.

Cosatu Provincial Secretary, Thabo Mokoena, says the exorbitant fees make life difficult for poor people. He also wants public transport to be exempt from paying toll fees, saying the increase in the toll fees leads to public transport costs being increased.

“Now if you had to combine both the toll fee and the petrol price that we had to spend on the road, it tells you that it won’t be affordable for ordinary people to access this quality road. So we are saying that those road users must be subsidised. We are also saying as the Federation, public transport must be exempted from paying toll fees, taxis buses and trains that are using and for roads must be exempted completely,” Mokoena, says.

Motorists also expressed their concern, saying they can’t visit their families as often as they would have liked because of the exorbitant fuel and toll fees.

The spokesperson for TRAC, Solange Soares-Nicholson, says the toll fees are channelled towards the construction and maintenance of the N4 Toll route from Pretoria to Maputo in Mozambique.

Soares-Nicholson says, “You will see that there is a billion rand worth of construction currently taking place along the street. And this has been the status quo for the street. Anyone that has known the route pre-1998 pre the conversation will tell you that it took 45 hours to travel from Pretoria…”

“These days, It takes three plus and that is how you fund construction. It is through the toll fees that is how we maintain the road. Apart from rehabilitation and expansions. We also do the daily routine road maintenance that your guardrails, your line painting your studs, and that all costs money at the moment. It costs over R140,000 per kilometre per year to maintain just regular maintenance,” adds Soares-Nicholson.

Soares-Nicholson has promised to escalate the demands by Cosatu to the relevant authorities. TRAC has been given seven days to respond.

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Source: SABC News (