Commuters left stranded, Mbombela shut down due to fuel hike strike

Commuters left stranded in Mbombela due to fuel hike strike

Commuters in Mbombela and its surroundings were left stranded following a total shutdown of major roads in Mpumalanga. Taxi drivers took to the street to block some main roads using trucks and debris including the N4 between Matsulu and Kanyamazane, the R538 in Karino, and some most effective roads in the Mbombela CBD.

“A taxi driver said two weeks ago, fuel went up and we were forced to hike taxi fare and recently petrol hiked again with immediate effect. We commute about 15 passengers which are about R400 per trip, this is not money we are making considering to forever increase hike,” said a taxi driver Muzi Silibane.

He said the government is frustrating them with the fuel hike and no profit is made. He further added that the economy is already messed up and the fuel hike is a pain to public transport operations.

In other areas from Hazyview to Mkhuhlu near Bushbuckgridge, some passengers who had transport to commute to the City of Mbombela were forced to walk back home after taxi drivers closed the roads and downed tools to join the strike. The area was closed down and those driving 

Marite is also currently closed and those driving private cars are reportedly charged R20 to pass through Marite to Alexandra and Mkhuhlu.

Commuters forced of their vehicles

Public transport has been extremely affected and most people could not reach their destinations.

A commuter who was forced off the road by protestors says she was traveling to do an interview, unfortunately, she could not as all roads are closed and no transport is moving. 

“We understand the frustration, but this is a bit too much, why are we commuters have to suffer for the fuel hike. It is important for me to get the do my interview. This might be the last opportunity to look at me now,” said Sizakele Mondlane.

Strike suspects arrested

Police tried to clear the area, and a number of suspects were arrested.

“Some suspects had guns, we were tipped off that some had firearms, and some victims were pointed with guns by some taxi drivers. We have opened various cases which include public violence, the pointing of firearms, and assault,” said police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala.

Meanwhile, The Lowveld Security Joint Operations Command (JOC) has been activated due to a protest action that has closed off multiple roads around the City. News about the protests came through to the JOC just after 01:00 this morning, and specific routes have already been identified.

Roads affected

  • These include where the R104 out of Mbombela joins the N4, as well as the intersection further on near the Sasol garage about 2km from Karino.
  • Taxis have reportedly blocked off the police station on Bester Street.
  • The R40 at the Bosch Street off-ramp has also been blocked off, as well as Andrew Street, Wolfaardt Street, and the Plaston Road.
  • The fuel depot at Platsak has been blocked off.
  • Bosch Street at the SAB Breweries is closed, as is the intersection between SARS and the Crossing Centre on the R40.
  • The intersection at Garden City Motor Truck division has also been blocked off.

Saftey authorities assures safety

The Mpumalanga police are on the scene in the process of clearing some of the roads and dealing with protesters.

The Lowveld JOC joined forces with the Hi-Tech’s Frank Swanepoel, Vernon Lancaster and Callum mac Pherson, ACS’s John Meintjies, Bossies Community Justice’s Albert Gryvenstein, and Fidelity/ADT’s Shaun Terblanche.

The public is urged to avoid the sharing of unverified information. It advised the public to contact their security companies to get the correct information on the situation or to follow the official channels.

Department of Community Safety Community and Liaison MEC Vusi t safety authorities are on the ground to monitor the situation.

“We condemn the closure of roads by the protesters. There are channels and steps to take to convey your message across,” he said.