Mayhem at main bus rank
MANZINI – The fifth day of the public transport workers’ boycott turned ugly yesterday as it grounded all buses and kombis in and out of the city’s ranks leaving hundreds of commuters stranded.
This was after a clash between public transport operators designated to the Satellite Bus Rank and those of the main bus rank.
The east-bound transport operators who resisted using the Satellite Bus Rank since last Friday entered the main rank at about 1.45pm and pelted buses and kombis with stones to demand solidarity from those at the main bus rank as their operations had previously not been affected.
They began by driving everyone out of the main bus rank in less than 10 minutes.
The main bus rank operators reacted by driving their vehicles out of the premises fearing the worse. Likewise, vendors scampered to the exit point deserting their wares, while some who were brave managed to pack before running away.
The Satellite rank operators literally took control of the bus rank. They whistled and screamed ‘that is what we wanted’ as buses hastily left the bus rank. Kombis and a few buses went to park on private property near Manzini Central Traffic lights and a meeting was convened to find a way forward.
The Satellite rank operators had conceived their strategy at the Swaziland Commercial Amadoda Road Transportion Association (SCARTA) offices where there was a meeting for public transport owners. The owners had invited the conductors and drivers to come and shed light on the crisis engulfing the Satellite rank.
However, the talks failed to yield fruits that were desired by the conductors and drivers, resulting in another informal meeting held outside the SCARTA conference room.
That meeting resulted in a resolution to invade the main bus rank.
The drivers and conductors drove to Tinker’s Filling Station and parked their vehicles after which they walked to the main rank.
Upon arrival the about 30 operators whistled and threw stones at buses causing pandemonium in the rank. Bus drivers got in their vehicles and sped away immediately while there was a stampede of vendors. Everyone was determined to get out of the bus rank hastily to escape the hail of stones. Police officers who appeared unarmed also ran away from the rank near the Power Factory shop.
A contingent of armed police officers arrived 15 minutes later and found that buses and kombis had already vacated the bus rank while the Satellite rank drivers and conductors had vanished from the scene.
The police riot squad was armed with rubber bullet guns and teargas but none were used.
They then retreated to the police post and were later seen relaxing and conversing among themselves while there was no transport to ferry commuters. Afterwards there was a stand-off between the Satellite and main bus rank operators.
The main rank operators convened a meeting near their buses within the private property near Central Filling Station. They were seething in anger as they demanded to know why they were being chased away from their work station. They were eventually calmed by Deputy Regional Commander Musa Zwane who addressed them.
It’s unfortunate - govt
MANZINI - Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane said it was unfortunate that the commuters were the ones suffering the most in this issue.
He said government was made aware of the chaos that erupted in Manzini yesterday.
"It’s unfortunate that Swazis have elected to behave this way. It should be noted that the key people in this issue are the commuters. Even the public transport owners know that it is the commuters who pay their bank loans. If commuters are treated this way it is very unfortunate.
"This also does not show the spirit of respect to the public transport industry. One was expecting the operators to be committed to their work whilst talks about their concerns go on," he said.
Go back to work - SCARTA
MANZINI – Swaziland Com-mercial Amadoda Road Transportation Association (SCARTA) has disassociated itself from the chaos that ensued in the main bus rank yesterday.
Secretary General, Duma Msibi, said SCARTA’s view is that all public transport should be at work.
He said he was also shocked while driving towards town to see his bus speeding out of the city towards KaKhoza.
"I was then told that there was chaos at the main bus rank. This is completely out of SCARTA’s ambit because we do not know anything about such an action. All we know is that we are having meetings with the Municipal Council to try and find a solution to the operationalisation of the Satellite Bus Rank.
"This was also the resolution taken at our meeting today (yesterday). Nothing was spoken about invading the bus rank. If people wanted to take such action, they should have raised it in the meeting," he said.
When asked what the situation would be today Msibi said: "I am tired of saying one and the same thing over and over again. Buses and kombis must go back to work."
Transport back at around 5pm
MANZINI – At around 4:58pm, transport started coming back into the main bus rank.
After a standoff of about three to four hours, public transport vehicles started returning to the main bus rank to ferry commuters to their respective destinations.
It was mainly kombis as most buses had already called it a day.
Regardless of the fact that commuters would arrive home late, they were glad that there was transport to take them there.
However, what happened to those from afar remained uncertain since most of the kombis were local kombis, from Matsapha and Ngwane Park.ã€€
STAWU preparing for a bigger strike
MANZINI – The Swaziland Transport and Allied Workers Union (STAWU) says it is preparing for a bigger strike action.
Secretary General Simanga Shongwe said the crisis engulfing the bus rank could only be resolved if government would open dialogue with the operators.
He said, yesterday, he was called by the Labour Commissioner to discuss issues pertaining the Satellite Bus Rank. "I do not regard such a meeting as successful because members of the Labour Advisory Board were not there."
He said he was expecting the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) to which STAWU affiliates to be a partner in all dialogue sessions involving the Satellite Bus Rank.
Shongwe said STAWU was still awaiting government’s response to the seven-day period in which the notice for a strike action was lodged.
"The seven days ends tomorrow (today), and there has been no formal response from government. This means we are going ahead with preparations for the strike action for May 29 to June 8," he said.
...Manzini RA holds urgent meeting with stakeholders
MANZINI – Manzini Regional Administrator Prince Masitsela convened an urgent meeting to resolve the public transport crisis engulfing the country.
The prince, who was not feeling well, brought together Minister of Public Works and Transport Ntuthuko Dlamini, Shiselweni Regional Administrator Paul Dlamini, Manzini Regional Commander Charles Tsabedze and members of the Swaziland Commercial Amadoda Road Transportation Association (SCARTA). Also in attendance were representatives from the Municipal Council of Manzini.
The prince said the object of the meeting was to see how each of the parties involved could buy peace. When asked what ‘buying peace’ meant, the Prince said ‘buying peace is doing what you did not expect to do in order for peace to prevail.’
Prince Masitsela said he wanted to broker peace in the city.
"This is no longer an issue touching on the city but it now concerns the whole country. This is why I decided that it would be best to meet all the Regional Administrators too. However, for now I am not able to state what was discussed because I am still trying to listen to all the involved parties," he said.
Plz government intervene in this public transport issue, we are sick and tired.
May 16, 2012, 11:51 AM, skhumbuzo shandu (email@example.com)
GVT intervention is highly needed at this point in time because both commuters and the nation as a whole are truly affected by this and i guess it is the GVT ' duty to make sure that citizens of a country are well catered for especially in the public sector businesses. We cant be just ruled by this unlearned people. Something should be done. I am not in Swaziland currently but i have been following this issue and to enlighten Swazis,this is becoming a shame(how barbaric we swazis can be)............
May 16, 2012, 12:41 PM, Mzet Highsong Dlakadla (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Swaziland, always dragging their lazy feet while the public suffers. Can the nation be once put 1'st.
May 16, 2012, 3:51 PM, buckz (email@example.com)
Manzini City Council pliz come to our rescue. Its not all of us who have cars, pliz we need buses. 'inyandzaleyo!!' babe Ntuthuko why are you quiet. at least 'wena sisakwetsemba lalabanye, hhawu.'
May 16, 2012, 3:51 PM, L (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All this is happening bcoz there is poor planning by the City Council they say there is overcrowding when they should have enlarged the town. My question is lendzawo lelapha entansi lehlala i idle sonkhe sikhatsi isebenta only two days ayisebentiswa ngani sesifile ngulo kuhlukubetwa indzawo ibekelwe timphahla!
May 16, 2012, 8:45 PM, mpumzar (email@example.com)
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