It was mayhem on Thabo Sehume Street and other roads in the CBD yesterday.
  Pictures:  Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)
It was mayhem on Thabo Sehume Street and other roads in the CBD yesterday.
 Pictures: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Businesses in Pretoria CBD count losses due to Samwu protest

By RAPULA MOATSHE Time of article published Aug 1, 2019

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Pretoria - Businesses in the CBD were yesterday counting the losses incurred as a result of the strike by municipal workers demanding an 18% salary increase.

Pretoria - The workers, affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), have had the CBD under lock and key since Monday, leaving most businesses with no option but to close their doors.

Chief executive of Capital City Business Chamber, Fanie du Toit, said the strike was negatively affecting business in general.

“First of all it is very unpleasant for the people to do business in town. No client goes anywhere where the situation is perceived to be dangerous,” he said.

Businesses would have to bear the brunt of losing out on profits after they closed shops for days because of the intimidating environment.

With the buses that had blocked the road since Monday locked away, the workers used municipal trucks this time around, as seen here on Lilian Ngoyi Street. Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

“It is very bad for business and it would take a lot of time for them to turn around their figures,” Du Toit said.

Business people lamented the fact that protests dented confidence of potential investors in the CBD.

“The confidence of people from the business side in general is challenged. The inner city is not an easy environment to work in,” a businesswoman said.

Unified South African Traders leader Ramodike Morema said the march negatively affected businesses of hundreds of informal traders in the CBD.

He said many of their members were breadwinners and would struggle to put food on the table after they failed to make profits for several days.

Morema said: “We plead with the municipality to play open cards with the workers. The municipality must just let them know if what they are demanding is possible or not, so that we can continue with our lives.”

The strike has also forced the hearings at the PIC commission of inquiry to be called off for this week.

Yesterday, the City of Tshwane faced off with the union at the bargaining council in an attempt to restore peace and resolve the dispute amicably.

Samwu said both parties would reconvene today.

Municipal workers spent yet another day demonstrating in the CBD to express their anger at the wage dispute that has crippled businesses in the city. Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

The union said it presented a framework to the employer with the hope it would bring a lasting solution to the impasse.

“The City has committed that it would be seeking a mandate on the presented framework and respond properly when parties reconvene at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council. We remain committed to ensuring that we come out of this process victorious in the interest of our members,” Samwu said.

The City of Tshwane also confirmed that the parties agreed to resume conciliation this morning.

On the streets, the workers continued to vent their anger against the municipality by burning dustbins and scattering litter.

They were angered after the City gave an 18% pay increment to senior managers, excluding the majority of municipal workers.

The demonstrators marched in groups through the CBD, trashing dustbins on the roads and blocking intersections with rocks.

Shops in the inner city were again closed in the busy Bloed Street. The taxi industry has also been disrupted immensely.

Hostile protesters clashed with a taxi driver on the corner of Madiba and Paul Kruger streets. They threateningly ordered the driver to make a U-turn after they barricaded the intersection with rocks, but he refused.

They were provoked when he threatened to shoot them and warned him that they would pelt him with rocks.

He eventually gave in with more protesters confronting him and he turned his taxi back..

Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba conceded the City was a “bit overstretched” with manpower for maintaining order. He said the City asked for assistance from the Joburg Metro Police and SAPS and was happy with the progress thus far.

“At this stage we are happy with the minimum resources that we have at our disposal.”

He said the department received a tip-off that protesters planned to tamper with electricity and water supplies.

“We have a comprehensive plan deploying officers in all the hot spots. We have deployed more officers to guard municipal buildings, bus depots, reservoirs and electricity power stations.”

The City reported that it recovered at least 40 buses, which were used to block the road intersections in the past two days.

The buses were returned to a municipal bus depot east of Pretoria.

Roads and Transport MMC Sheila Lynn Senkubuge asked commuters to look for alternative transport as the operations of both Tshwane Bus Services and Tshwane Rapid Transit had been indefinitely suspended.

Pretoria News

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