South Africa braced for huge toll road protests

A road in South Africa Image copyright AP
Image caption Trade unions say the tolls will "put a burden on the poor"

Tens of thousands of trade unionists across South Africa are expected to march against new tolls on roads between Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.

The Cosatu labour federation - which is organising the rallies - says the proposed system will hurt the poor.

The protests are also directed against 'labour-brokering' - when agencies hire workers on short-term contracts.

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Media captionDrivers on the slipway to the main highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria have been giving their views

The marches are expected to take place in 32 towns and cities.

"The tolls will put a burden on the poor," Cosatu (Congress of South African Trade Unions) Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters ahead of the marches.

"We're saying to the government, we remain open to talk to you. Call us, we will come running to find a resolution," he added.

Cosatu says it expects as many as 100,000 people to join the protests nationwide.

The government upgraded existing motorways in and around Johannesburg for the 2010 football World Cup.

It says the work was not free of cost, and it now wants the electronic toll road system to retrospectively finance these wide and smooth roads, the BBC's Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg reports.

The start of tolling has already been delayed several times, after companies warned the fees would raise the cost of doing business.

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