Tshwane CBD gridlocked as striking municipal bus drivers block roads

2019-07-29 11:07
Gridlocked traffic in the Tshwane CBD due to a bus driver strike. (Image via Twitter)

Gridlocked traffic in the Tshwane CBD due to a bus driver strike. (Image via Twitter)

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The entire Tshwane central business district was gridlocked on Monday morning as disgruntled municipal bus drivers went on strike, seeking an increase in wages.

"I received the first report at about 06:00 that municipal bus drivers had parked their vehicles and left with their keys," Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) spokesperson Isaac Mahamba told News24 on Monday.

"We are engaging the City bus manager to find ways to move the buses, as the original keys are not here," he added.

The strike action has affected every street leading into the CBD, Mahamba said.

"This includes your Francis Baard, Madiba, Lilian Ngoyi and Sisulu streets," he explained.

EWN reported that the drivers, affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), were seeking an 18% increase.

Disingenuous action

MMC for Roads and Transport Sheila Senkubuge told News24 that the City was aware the protest would be going ahead. However, measures put in place at the depot, where the buses were parked, had not prevented workers from taking the vehicles out.

"We were informed last week about the wages strike, but what we are seeing now is opportunistic elements, where drivers decided to use the municipal property.

"We are constantly engaging Samwu, and we have no issues with the strike, but what is unacceptable is to use the municipality's property to inconvenience the entire City," she told News24.

Metro police, who were busy diverting traffic from the CBD, could not confirm when the affected roads would be open again.

The City of Tshwane has since condemned what it calls "an illegal protest by Samwu in the strongest terms.

"The current disruption which has brought the city’s services to an abrupt halt is opportunistic and undermines its stability. It is concerning that flagrant violation of law and order has overshadowed sincere efforts by the City to resolve the impasse over the demand for an 18% increase," the Office of the Executive Mayor said in a statement on Monday.

The City further claims that the unions are yet to officially declare a dispute at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) for arbitration processes to begin.

"The onus is on unions to declare a dispute – a step they are yet to make.

"Instead of resolving the matter by presenting their demands at a legitimate forum,employees have resorted to thuggery and disorderliness," the Office of the Executive Mayor explained.

Law enforcement remain on the scene as strike action continues in the country's capital.

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Read more on:    tshwane  |  pretoria  |  traffic  |  protests
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