Durban businesses hit by municipal strike

A hawker wearing a mask sits next to a pile of uncollected refuse on a street corner.

A hawker wearing a mask sits next to a pile of uncollected refuse in Durban central as the eThekwini municipal workers strike continues. Picture: Karen Singh

Published Mar 5, 2024

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As eThekwini municipal workers strike over “equal pay” enters the eighth day, businesses in the Durban city centre say they are feeling the impact, with refuse piling up at street corners, encroaching on their store entrances and fewer customers visiting stores.

“The Mercury” visited the central business district on Monday and spoke to several business owners and employees affected by the ongoing strike.

All of them requested anonymity as they feared reprisals.

An employee at a shoe store in Dr Yusuf Dadoo (Grey) Street said business was slow on Monday.

“It was busy on Friday and Saturday and slow on Sunday and today (Monday).

“Customers dropped by about 50% because they are scared to come into town,” he said.

He said some stores in the street had no electricity while others had no water, saying it “might be linked to the strike”.

A clothing store owner, who also asked not to be named, said he saw private citizens cleaning the streets.

“The Mercury” came across cleaners with brooms and rakes near several unmarked refuse collection trucks.

A police officer advised that about 20 protesters had threatened the private refuse collectors and they were forced to leave the area.

A businessman said he had to close his store on Thursday due to the protest action and lost out on “quite a bit of business in that time”.

“Today (Monday) has been quieter compared to other Mondays and if the protest continues it will negatively impact the business,” he said.

The manager of another shoe store, who also asked not to be named, said: “The garbage piles up. The wind also blows some of the dirt inside the store and it smells very bad.”

She said that the mess from the refuse made it difficult for customers to park in front of the store.

“We had to close up our store (on Thursday) and that was not good for business. Other branches of our brand continued with business.”

A manager of a fast food establishment in Joe Slovo Street shared similar concerns about the refuse.

“Our customers complain about the garbage getting inside the restaurant and we keep on sweeping it out but the wind blows it back in, it is very frustrating.”

*Additional reporting by Siphesihle Buthelezi

The Mercury