Vuvuzela calculated the average yearly cost for students driving to Wits with an e-tag: Witsies driving from Benoni will spend R1308, R707.88 from Centurion, R777.48 from Roodepoort and R154.92 from Johannesburg North. Without the e-tag the prices would be about double.
“Well obviously it requires more money for one to get to varsity and back [home], and in the same sense you have less money to spend so it cuts down on where you can drive. Before, I could go home during lunch but now I have to think twice,” said 2nd year medical student Zain Patel.
But students who rely on public transport will not feel the effects of e-tolling immediately. Taxis and buses are exempt from e-tolling according to the recent budget speech by Pravin Gordhan.
Gordhan had also said the government would subsidise R5.8 billion of Gauteng’s e-toll fees.
“It would be better if petrol was compensated in place of e-tolling”, said Darrel Moodley, 4th year occupational therapy student.
This comes after Tuesday night’s 28c petrol price increase to a record high of R11.05 per litre.
E-tolls were a core issue raised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in a mass action protest march in Braamfontein on Wednesday.
Former Wits SRC president Bafana Nhlapo was also marching and said: “I’m here against e-tolling because it’s going to affect the poor man on the street because it’s going to cause a rise in basic commodities such as food, water and milk. As much as taxes exempt the poor it’s still going to affect the working class.”
Thousands of protesters marched along Johannesburg central business district and many wore bright red t-shirts with slogans condemning labour brokering, the other focus of Cosatu’s protest.
The crowd started to sing and dance, chanting Juju my president, at the sight of suspended ANC youth league president Julius Malema. Wits workers also joined the march to participate in the nationwide protest against what Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi calls “labour ‘breakers’, not labour brokers”.
A memorandum was handed over outside the Gauteng provincial office where Vavi and Malema addressed the crowds.
“We are here to show solidarity with the workers opposing the e-tolling system and labour brokers. Leadership should listen to the masses,” said Malema.