Commuters forced to make long trek to work due to taxi strike
In true fashion of honouring their “in sickness and in health – and in good and bad times” marriage vows – a Mthatha couple walked for 25km together on Wednesday to get to work. This was not out of choice, but out of necessity.
There were no taxis to transport Ross Mission residents Zolani Somdyaka and his wife Thulethu to the Nelson Mandela Hospital – where they both work as cleaners.
The Somdyakas were part of the thousands of commuters who were left stranded by Wednesday’s provincial taxi strike.
Determined not to miss work, the couple woke up early on Wednesday and trekked the 25km journey side-by-side.“It has been a very tiring journey, especially when we still have to work for the whole eight hours,” they told the Daily Dispatch.
“We are not even sure if they [taxis] will be available when we knock off.”
While some workers and pupils went back home after they could not get taxis to their respective destinations in the morning, pupils from various villages in the Mthatha West did what the Somdyakas did and walked to school. But at two schools the Dispatch visited, Mzimvubu Junior Secondary in Ngangelizwe township and Atwell Madala near Northcrest, there was no schooling at all.
Xolile Qeberhu, 41, and his three colleagues working at a panelbeater business at Mthatha’s Vulindlela Industrial Heights walked about 10km from Dosi village near Mthatha Airport to work.
Teachers at St John’s College, where it was business as usual, confirmed that not all pupils were at school. Before the strike was called off just after midday, several taxis were seen ferrying passengers.
While there were no reported cases of violence in Mthatha, traffic was backed up in Mpantu village on the R61 between Mthatha and Port St Johns as taxis blockaded the road.In Butterworth, taxi drivers burnt tyres and barricaded the intersection of the Zazulwana bypass on King and Scanlen streets, near the infrastructure development offices of Mnquma Municipality, where the municipality’s yellow plant is kept, sending up a thick plume of smoke.
Municipal spokesperson Loyiso Mpalantshane said the taxi operators had threatened to burn the municipal storage facility but were prevented by police and firefighters.“
Arsonists played cat-and-mouse games with the police,” Mpalantshane said in a statement.
While Santaco bosses handed over their memorandum of demands to ANC provincial chair Oscar Mabuyane at Calata House, Butterworth Taxi Association president Simon Funda led his members to the Mnquma offices where he handed over a memorandum of grievances, mainly regarding dilapidated roads, to municipal manager Silumko Mahlasela.
In Komani, taxis blockaded the north and south entrances to town – but there were no reported cases of violence.
Uncedo Taxi Association Komani branch spokesperson Madoda Tholi said: “We are happy with how our members behaved. All our members acted according to the plan.”Provincial police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said no tyres had been burnt and there had been no reports of violence.
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