Protesting truck drivers blocked highways leading into Pretoria‚ causing chaos for morning commuters on Wednesday.
The protest was organised by the Coal Transportation Forum – representing companies that transport coal – which is opposed to government signing the Independent Power Producer agreement. They say this will lead to mine closures and job losses.
Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said the truck drivers had planned to march to the Union Buildings. “At this stage our focus is to unblock the roads and get free flow of traffic.” Action would then be taken against those responsible‚ he said.
“We know the organisers‚ we have their details. They came to apply for a permit‚” said Mahamba.
Mahamba said they had agreed with the protest organisers that they be allowed to travel in “trucks and motor vehicles” to Marabastad from where they would march to the Union Buildings.
“We came to a compromise that they can come into the city with trucks and motor vehicles‚ driving individually‚ stop at Marabastad‚ park the trucks‚ get into the motor vehicles and go straight to the Union Buildings from 10am until around 2pm‚” said Mahamba.
“But for them to wake up this morning‚ be on trucks‚ park in the middle of the road‚ as is being alleged‚ we didn’t approve that‚” he said.
Sephiwe Montlha‚ a councillor from Shoshanguve‚ said he had been sitting in traffic for an 90 minutes and there was no sign that the situation would improve.
“The trucks are just standing the middle of the road. I’ve passed two trucks but there are eight in front of me and I can’t see past that‚” he said.
Montlha said the trucks were driving at no more than 20km/h. Some truck drivers left their vehicles in the middle of the road.
“The driver is [getting] in and out of his truck‚ just doing things deliberately for the convoy not to move‚” he said.”One guy insulted him‚ very angry. Everybody was very angry‚ even taxi drivers.”
“The situation is bad. They say there are trucks coming from Witbank and other areas of Limpopo who are going to march in town‚” Montlha said.
“I don’t see any metro police on the road. Normally they would be here… but today there is no-one. Something is not right‚” he said.
Motorists also took to social media to vent their frustration at the gridlock.