Durban bus blockade chaos

Traffic was backed up for kilometres when bus drivers blocked major roads around Durban on Monday. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/Daily News

Traffic was backed up for kilometres when bus drivers blocked major roads around Durban on Monday. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/Daily News

Published Feb 1, 2016


Durban - A municipal bus blockade trapped thousands of motorists travelling to and from Durban in peak hour traffic on Monday.

Striking Durban Transport drivers, employed by the beleaguered Tansnat company, blockaded the entrance and exit to uMlazi in the south, and KwaMashu in the north after they did not receive their January salaries.

People from uMlazi and part of Isipingo were prevented from getting to Durban as buses parked across roadways, blocking lanes.

Cars and taxis were gridlocked on all lanes of the north-bound carriageway of the N2 where it splits to the M4. Some made U-turns on the freeway and drove against oncoming traffic to the Merebank and Jacobs onramps.

South Coast Road entering uMlazi was gridlocked because buses were parked across the entrance to uMlazi at Mega City.

Many commuters alighted minibus taxis and walked to Merebank and Lamontville.

The M4 south-bound after Quality Street was closed to traffic. Motorists were forced to make U-turns and exit in Quality Street. This included trucks with cargo on the trailers.

Phoenix Crime Watch reported on its Facebook page that the intersection of Ntuzuma Access Road/Besters on- and offramps were blocked by buses, preventing vehicles from leaving or entering Phoenix through the intersection.

By mid-morning metro police had opened several roads to traffic.

Hundreds of workers reached work late.

A bus driver, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were fed up with management and the way they were being treated. He said Monday’s blockade was to protest against not being paid salaries for January. The driver said shop stewards and managers were not trusted.

Striking drivers also said they had been short-changed overtime pay.

“We are working because we need to put food on the table for our families. Most of the drivers are family men. They enforce the no-work, no-pay policy on us,” he said.

At the time of publication, senior eThekwini Municipality officials were locked in a city managers’ operations meeting. On the agenda was the disruption of the bus service.

Comment was not immediately available from either the municipality or Tansnat over Monday’s action.

But a Tansnat notice posted at the bus depots and dated January 30, informed drivers that their salaries would be paid to them on Monday.

According to the notice, an agreement was signed between the company and the municipality at 5pm on “Friday 29 February, 2016”. This is understood to have been a typing error, and the agreement was signed last Thursday.

The notice reads in part: “Notwithstanding the above, personnel whom (sic) have not received their salaries by the end of business on Monday, should present themselves at the office of their respective depot managers.”

This is the second month Tansnat employees have been paid late. They were paid their December salaries and bonuses only in mid-January.

At an emergency session of the eThekwini Municipality on January 22, city manager Sibusiso Sithole revealed that the municipality had been forced to fork out R33 million to keep the service afloat.

Monday’s strike had commuters fuming.

Mandy Singleton took to Facebook: “If there is ANYONE in Empangeni or Richards Bay that could please attend the judgment for the killers of my uncle Kerridge Singleton in Mtunzini court, please go and represent us! We cannot get there due to the bus strike! I’m begging ANYONE to please go. Starts at 10am!”

Pinky Zamahlubi KaBakhona Radebe called herself an “angry citizen” and said she had been standing at the taxi rank for hours because taxis could not move as a result of the strike.

“We are now compelled to stay at home (and) take unplanned or unpaid leave... This is so not on,” she said.

Daily News

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