Strikes bring city centres to a stop

2012-03-07 14:58
Johannesburg - Thousands of people wearing bright red and yellow attire sang, danced and waved placards in a nationwide Cosatu-led protest against labour brokering and e-tolls on Wednesday.

Shops were closed in Johannesburg, the country's economic hub, where the major event was taking place.

Protesters began marching from Beyers Naude Square around 10:00. Marshals battled to contain the crowd, which stretched along six blocks, when embattled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema arrived.

City of Johannesburg spokesperson Gabu Tugwana said it was too early to say how many people did not show up for work.

"We put in a process of an attendance register for all our departments where employees are expected to sign in and sign out this [Wednesday] afternoon.

"So we should have a clear indication later this afternoon," he said.

‘Everything peaceful in Tshwane’

Tshwane municipality spokesperson Pieter de Necker said the municipality had not been affected.

"We have not had any serious disruptions, but a head count is being done. As far as we are concerned everything is peaceful."

In Polokwane in Limpopo, a downpour resulted in some protesters seeking shelter under shop awnings. Others were not deterred by the chill and drizzle and continued chanting and blowing their vuvuzelas.

In Cape Town, the march got underway at 11:00 with protesters braving the blistering heat. The crowd stretched about two city blocks and took shelter under the trees to avoid the sunlight.

Others sang and danced in the street, carrying knobkerries.

Flight delays

In Durban, the strike also started an hour after the scheduled time. Numerous police officers along Dr Pixley ka Seme Street - formerly called West Street - monitored the crowd attired in red t-shirts and blowing vuvuzelas.

The Airports Company of SA (Acsa) asked travellers to arrive early as flights out of Durban had been affected by the strike.

"The company that supplies the fuel, Sky Tanking, has advised that its employees did not report for work on time as a result of the planned national strike by Cosatu," Acsa said of the delays at King Shaka International Airport.

Acsa asked passengers to arrive two hours early for domestic flights and four hours before international flights.

Toll costs

Metrorail said its services were slightly reduced in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, with "worrying" reports of protesters assaulting and intimidating commuters.

"Incidents were reported at Elandsfontein, Kempton Park, Leralla, and Kaalfontein," Metrorail said of its Gauteng service.

Services on the Leralla line were temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure. Metrorail had asked the police to help protect commuters and their trains.

Metrobus in Johannesburg asked that commuters make alternative transport arrangements because it seemed some drivers had joined the strike.

Protesters were opposed to the imminent tolling of some Gauteng roads. With effect from April 30, motorcycles with e-tags will pay 20c/km and those without, 38c. Light motor vehicles will pay 30c and 58c respectively, and non-articulated trucks 75c and R1.45.

Articulated trucks with e-tags will pay R1.51/km, and those without R2.90. Under the new fee system, the cost for motorcycles and light vehicles will be capped at R550 a month.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts
Read more on:    metrorail  |  acsa  |  cosatu  |  cape town  |  durban  |  johannesburg  |  labour  |  tolls  |  strikes  |  protests

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