COMMUTERS who utilise Taros buses have been left without transport for the past three weeks after the buses at the Impendle depot stopped operating.According to drivers, on August 22 the employer allegedly ordered bus drivers to park their buses off and not operate, following a confrontation between drivers and a manager of another bus service, also belonging to Taros.The affected community members are from Mpophomeni, Howick, Mpande, and Mafakatini. According to one of the drivers who spoke to Echo on the basis of anonymity, the employer told them not to use the buses after they [bus drivers] said they did not want the manager from Sizanani Mazulu Transport (SMT) in Pietermaritzburg, Ashraf Hassim, to enter their work premises in Merrivale. According to the driver, Hassim had allegedly threatened to fire them all if he became their manager during a previous visit.“Hassim came to meet us in May at the depot when he made this threat. We raised our concerns with management and we had an agreement in place that they were not going to let him [Hassim] back into our depot again. “When we saw him entering the depot last month we told him that he was not welcome.“He told us that he was having a meeting with management. We told him that we do not have a problem with that but they must hold the meeting somewhere else and not on the premises,” he said. The driver said this is when the problems started. He said that management told them that they were going to suspend all the shop stewards and on August 22 they were told they were not to take out the buses, which were to be locked away. The drivers that were already out on their routes were called to come back and park their buses. The driver said that their union, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), met with Taros management on August 23 to try and reach some agreement and resolve the issue but it did not help because the employer refused to allow them to work. “Community members who used the buses are suffering to the extent that some are not even going to work because taxis are expensive and they cannot afford them. “Others had already bought their bus ticket for the whole month. They do not know what to do with them now and the bus tickets are going to expire soon. “We want to go back to work because our communities are suffering. “We still wake up every morning and go stand outside the gate at the depot with the hope that the employer will open the gate and allow us to operate the buses but that never happens,” he said. Satawu Provincial Chairperson Chief Dlamini said they are saddened by the situation, especially because it’s the community that is suffering. Dlamini said they have tried to engage with the management but unfortunately they have not reached any agreement or solution to the problem.“Management is telling us that the drivers went on an unprotected strike but the drivers are telling us a different story. “We tried to explain to management that if they want drivers to go to a disciplinary hearing they can do that but they must allow them to work so that the community can stop suffering,” he said. Dlamini said they have now even reported the matter to their federation, Cosatu.“Cosatu wrote a letter to the management last week requesting a meeting but until today there has been no response. We want this problem resolved,” he said. Ashraf Hassim said: “The situation is a delicate matter, however, we undertake to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”Community members who were using the buses are suffering to an extent that some are not even going to work because taxis are expensive and they cannot afford them.