OFF GUARD: Thousands of people in Durban were stranded today by the surprise strike by taxi drivers and operators. RIGHT: Commuters try to cram on to a bus in KwaMashu todayPictures: Bongani Mbatha

Durban - Schoolchildren, grandmothers and blind and disabled people were among a large group waiting for hours in Durban on Thursday night for a bus to take them home.

The eThekwini municipality issued a statement on Monday saying the municipal bus operator, Tansnat Durban Management, was experiencing a diesel shortage that resulted in service interruption.

However, there has been no permanent solution and people relying on the bus service have been left stranded.

The system operates using a “Muvo” card that allows the holder to preload an amount monthly.

“We don’t carry cash,” shouted one of the stranded commuters who were protesting outside the municipal bus depot in central Durban. “How are we supposed to afford other transport when we have already paid for the bus?”

Michael Zondo, a blind singer, said he was struck by a bus driver earlier in the day. A witness said the driver definitely saw that he was trying to cross the entrance but carried on going.

“This is all because of tenders, they are eating the money. The municipal buses must go back to the municipality,” said Zondo.

Njabulo, 16, who did not want to reveal his surname, had been waiting since he finished school at 3pm. “I have exams coming up, I should be at home studying,” said the pupil.

Another pupil said he did not have cash to call his family.

“They have no idea where I am.”

A 64-year-old woman had been waiting all afternoon. “I am tired, this is abuse,” she said.

Another woman said this had not started on Monday but had been going on “on and off” for the past two weeks, and she had had to sleep at the depot before. “I am getting warnings at work,” she said, “my bosses don’t care, they say that I must not make it their problem.”

One man who The Mercury spoke to said he needed to take his medication before 7pm, but had not yet had a chance to eat.

Municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said on Thursday night that they were aware of the situation.

“We have requested the operator to provide buses to ferry the people,” he said.

The Mercury