Residents boycott buses over new fares

2010-07-27 00:00

RESIDENTS of a rural village outside Pietermaritzburg walked long distances to catch transport to work after protesting a bus fare increase yesterday morning.

The residents of KwaMafunze in Vulindlela said they were boycotting the buses after a city-based bus company increased its fares from R25 to R29,60 for a daily return. A weekly ticket increased from R80,75 to R92,80.

Said a local resident, Alison Ngcobo, “We woke up at 4 am and forced all the drivers to park the buses on the side of the road. We then phoned the management of the bus company and asked them to come and collect the buses so that we could engage them in talks about the new prices, but they did not come.”

Ngcobo said the residents walked about eight kilometres to Bulwer highway to catch taxis to town. He said other residents caught rides with trucks and bakkies.

Later in the morning, police intervened and escorted the buses to the depot.

“We had no intention of damaging the buses, but it seems the management is provoking the residents by refusing to negotiate the increase with us. We have written a letter to the company requesting a meeting, but it seems the company does not want to meet us,” Ngcobo said.

He said they were notified about the new prices on July 4.

He added that community members have vowed to continue with the boycott until the management listens to their grievances.

“We stated that residents of KwaMafunze are too poor and they cannot afford the new fares. Moreover, we don’t have buses on Sundays and on holidays, but we are charged for those days on weekly tickets.

“As long as they don’t listen to us we will never allow these buses to continue operating,” said Ngcobo.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said no violence was reported.

“People were barricading the road in the area insisting on speaking to the management of the bus company. There was a strong police presence, and the buses were later escorted to the depot,” said Jeevan.

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