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COSATU Memorandum on Swartruggens toll gate
21 June 2013
We, as representatives of Congress of South African Trade Unions, the communities and affected motorists in the North West have been here for several times since 15th December 2011 and we have been making calls to government and the SANRAL to respond to the demands that we made in the memoranda we submitted.
Today we want to demonstrate our dissatisfaction in the manner that the Department of Transport has handled our demands and have failed to take action in addressing these demands.
We have been told about the formation of the task team which in our view is not functional, does not have the terms of reference and is also biased to the same people who continue to rob the poor the money that they have worked hard for. We want to put in record that the task team have failed the masses of our province and the motorist who uses this road on daily basis.
In the past we have raised four reasons why we are opposed to the existence of this toll gate and we want to repeat those reasons without going into details of what we raised in the past. And the here are the reasons forwarded to the department and SANRAL in the past and there is no response to date:
1. There is no alternative route which can be used by the motorists who cannot afford to pay the toll fees.
2. The toll adds a burden to the poor by reducing their household income in taking the money from them and making the product which passes through the toll gate more expensive.
3. This toll road perpetuates exclusion in that those who cannot afford to pay the toll fees are denied the right to visit their families and to travel freely to where they want.
4. Finally, we said that the tolls represent a form of privatisation, which we have always been opposed to.
The declaration of the congress of the people held in 1955 popularly known as the Freedom Charter states that "all shall be free to travel without restriction from country side to town, from province to province and from South Africa abroad"
The constitution of South Africa state that:
"21. Freedom of movement and residence.41) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement."
We believe that this toll gate takes away that right.
The reasons submitted above are more relevant today with the deteriorating state of the road infrastructure in our province which forces the people to use this toll road.
We have heard the commitments from government and no action has been taken to honour those commitments.
We have noted that Bakwena prides itself by saying that it is committing R580 million in upgrading the road but they are telling the public that they have collected more than that amount in the toll fees they have collected during the construction period of the road.
Bakwena is also not telling the public that the toll fees charged at this toll gate are calculated on 191 kilometres from Lobatse to Marikana Plaza and not all of the motorist who passes at this toll gate are going to use the whole road and the policy on tolling of the roads demands that the toll fees must be proportional to the kilometres travelled by the motorist.
We are here today to say that we have heard enough talk and now we demand action and visible action.
Today we demand the following:
1. The disbandment of the task team and the reconstitution of a new task team which does not include Sanral but includes civil society organisations
2. Government must release the concession contract to the public and investigate how the concession contract was awarded and how did it come to the building of this toll plaza
3. The reduction of the toll fee to R20.00 with immediate effect or alternately the suspension of the collection of toll fees on this road with immediate effect
4. The termination of the Bakwena contract and the return of this road to the department of transport roads and public works.
5. The new task team must also look at the state of the road infrastructure in the North West and recommend funding models to address the backlog on the repairs and construction of the roads.
6. The construction of an alternative route parallel to the toll road to provide the poor with access to travelling.
We demand that the Department of Transport and Sanral must respond within seven days.
Failure to respond to our call, we will pull out an action from the Marikana and Brits toll gates.
Signed on behalf of COSATU
Signed on behalf of Government