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PUBLIC TRANSPORT WORKERS BLOCK ROADS IN PROTEST

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MALKERNS – Members of the public, who had to travel past Malkerns yesterday between noon and late afternoon, had to turn back, while some had to pay in order to pass.

This was because public transport workers, who work in kombis that operate along the Manzini/Malkerns and Mbabane/Malkerns public roads, blocked the road and staged a ‘roadblock’, where they demanded money from motorists who wanted to pass. This took place during the public transport workers’ protest action where they were complaining about alleged misconduct by some senior officers from the traffic departments at Malkerns and Mankayane police stations.

Around noon yesterday, the public transport workers regrouped at Malkerns town and blocked the roads from Mahlanya and Sundowners Backpackers and Lodge with dustbins, bottles and stones, while singing and dancing to political songs and slogans. In the meantime, some public transport owners led a group of the workers to deliver a petition verbally to the Malkerns Police Station. They were accompanied by some police officers.

According to the public transport workers, their grievances included that the senior officers in question were allegedly ill-treating them, using vulgar language and charging them spot fines which were above those stipulated in the Road Traffic Act. On top of that, they claimed that at times, they would ask the police officers to issue a ticket so that they could pay within seven days, but they allegedly refused.

“They threaten to take us to court and ask that we pay them between E100 and E200 if we do not want them to issue a summons,” they claimed. As the selected group delivered their grievances to the police station, the others blocked motorists and demanded that they pay E20 if they wanted to pass. On the other hand, police officers who were deployed to ensure peace and order advised most motorists to turn back because the protesting public transport workers were rowdy. As such, most motorists took the advice of the law enforcers.

Later on, the protesters blocked a tipper truck loaded with river sand at Malkerns town and ordered the driver to offload the sand on the road, or else they would stone the truck. The driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said he did not hesitate after being threatened. “I immediately delivered the load on the road because I did not want to lose my job again,” he said. He revealed that during the violent protest which took place at Siphofaneni around July 2021, he was driving the truck that was ferrying an excavator, which was burnt by the protesters. He said after that incident, his employer paid him half his salary for two months and he decided to look for another job. “So, I did not want to lose this job,” he emphasised.

Truck

Again, along the Sundowners Backpackers and Lodge/Malkerns Public Road, the protesting public transport workers blocked a horse and trailer truck, which was ferrying timber, and pulled its trailer across the road, thus blocking other motorists. Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati sad they received some complaints from the public transport workers at the Malkerns Police Station yesterday. She said they would address the concerns and asked the concerned workers to give them time to attend to it.

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