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PUBLIC TRANSPORT BACK TODAY AFTER 5 WORKERS RELEASED

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MANZINI – After two days without public transport, buses and kombis will be transporting the public as of today.

The public transport workers had last rendered their services on Monday as on Tuesday, they boycotted in support of a call for the release of incarcerated Members of Parliament (MPs) legislators Mthandeni Dube and Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza. However, on Tuesday evening, following a spate of encounters between the public transport workers and security personnel, the latter communicated that they would not resume their duties on Wednesday (yesterday).

Taken

Instead, they had reported that they would use the day to search for their members, who were taken by law enforcers at Mpaka to Siteki Police Station, while also searching for those who were injured and or shot by the security personnel. Yesterday, the public transport workers reported that they would resume their duties today. A public notice by Swaziland Transport and Allied Workers Union (SWATCAWU) said: “Following release of all detained transport workers by State forces, transport operations shall be restored on this 17th day of November 2022. Transport workers still call for the release of incarcerated MPs NOT later than this December 2022 (sic).”

Decision

Chairperson of SWATCAWU Manzini branch Maqhawe Rasta Mamba, said their decision to return to work followed that their colleagues who were taken by law enforcers at Mpaka to Siteki Police Station were released. This was also confirmed by the Chief Police Information and Communications Officer, Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, who said the five people who were taken by the police were released on Tuesday night.Meanwhile, Mamba said they had also learnt that one of their colleagues was shot and was currently recuperating at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital, while another was assaulted, allegedly by soldiers.

He said despite that they would be resuming operations today; they would, at 9am, convene a meeting to discuss certain issues. Among these issues, he said, was that their colleague who was shot on Tuesday at or near Ticantfwini was travelling with an accomplice, whose whereabouts remained unknown The accomplice, Mamba said, was also allegedly shot.“After the meeting we shall visit our member in hospital to get details about the person he was travelling with and seek to locate him,” he said.

In light of these developments, Chairperson of the National Road Transport Council (NRTC) Magesi Dlamini confirmed that services of the public transport sector would be restored today. He apologised profusely to the public for the inconvenience they endured in the past two days. Dlamini said as the NRTC, they would meet with the different associations to forge a way forward in order to ensure that such a challenge did not recur in the near future. He acknowledged that the boycotting of duties by workers of the sector had ripple repercussions to the owners, which were attested to by Swaziland Local Transport Association (SLTA) National General Secretary, Ambrose Dlamini.

Disruption

Ambrose said the impromptu disruption of services by the public transport workers was a threat to their employment, as it created a shortfall in generated revenue. This, in turn, he said brought a challenge to the entrepreneurs of the sector as they had commitments, which included settling debts incurred when funding the procurement of the public service vehicles and also salaries. He also elaborated that the transport sector was the backbone of the economy, as it was relied upon for productivity and when such happened, it meant that every operation was halted. Furthermore, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) yesterday pledged its support and solidarity for SWATCAWU, which is also an affiliate to the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland Union and the International Transport Workers Federation. 

Saddening

SATAWU said: “It is very saddening and unfortunate that transport workers are being physically harassed, beaten, kidnapped, and humiliated by soldiers in the country.” SATAWU, in a statement said, SWATCAWU was fighting for better working conditions, against human rights abuse and the release of prisoners who were also MPs. The union also condemned the shooting of the public transport workers. SATAWU said the shootings were anti-human and a violation of human rights as SWATCAWU members did nothing wrong and it was unusual for taking it to the streets for their demands. This, it said, was in fact a democracy to engage in.

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