At the time of writing this post, there’s a “drive-slow” protest taking place on some of the highways in Johannesburg. As the term suggests, folks taking part in the protest are driving at a hangover-esque pace (about 10km/h or 6mph) and so, if you’re stuck behind them, I suggest you cancel all your appointments…or get a Red Bull and hope it actually DOES give you wings.
Anyway, the protest itself is against the South Africans National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and its introduction of open road electronic toll (e-toll) collection on the highways of Gauteng Province. Essentially, Jo’burg has joined cities like London, Oslo, and Stockholm in introducing a sort of “congestion charge” to drive on its highways. Needless to say, folks are about as pissed as a horny Olive Oyl when a spinach-less Popeye can’t get it up. So, expect protest after protest.
Now, I totally understand people being upset. I mean, it’s an added cost at a time when most are struggling to keep their heads above water and the others are on budgets as tight as Lindiwe Mazibuko’s blazers. But I’m forced to question this habit of waiting till the last minute to protest. Why wait till everything is up and running to the start protesting? You tell me no one from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA), or anyone protesting today, knew of SANRAL’s (read as Government’s) plans to set up e-toll?
And as those giant gantries were being erected and e-toll offices built? When employees were being hired and all the advertising was taking place? You tell me with all the points of intervention from the conception of e-toll to its commencement, no one thought “hey, we should protest this?”
Instead, Zwelinzima Vavi (General Secretary of COSATU) and everyone else sat and watched the government spend billions only to now protest. So where’s the government supposed to recoup this money? Increase collections? I’m sure that will be met with protest. How about cut spending? PROTEST!!! Where then?
This precisely is my problem with Unions. They don’t take enough steps to rectify a situation before the protest stages. It’s as if they want to be seen to be protesting. Because if unions aren’t out there protesting, what use are they? We’d soon cancel our subscriptions and Vavi & Co. would be out of work. Unions + Visible Protest = Perceived Saviours (read as Ca$h!!!).
In actuality, e-toll should have been protested against years ago, long before Jo’burg had a an e-toll office on every corner and giant metallic money-pinching structures overarching its roads. Now it’s too late, but then again Vavi, you already know this right?
*just scribbling my thoughts*
- Gauteng’s e-tolling volcano (dailymaverick.co.za)
- Cosatu vs e-tolls, in photos (dailymaverick.co.za)
- SA government vows to punish lawlessness in protests against e- tolling (nzweek.com)