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Chaos in Durban as trains stop

By Canaan Mdletshe | May 18, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THERE were scenes of chaos and anger as thousands of frustrated commuters battled to find alternative modes of transport to go to work yesterday.

About 180000 train commuters were left stranded yesterday as the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) strike began in KwaZulu-Natal.

The strike by nearly 12000 workers severely disrupted Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl operations in the province and country-wide.

Unions Satawu and Utatu are demanding a 16percent wage increase while Prasa is offering 8percent across the board.

Long queues in two of the province's townships, Umlazi and KwaMashu, mainly of workers and pupils relying on trains bore testimony to the widespread frustration of commuters.

Some went back home after waiting "for far too long" in a vain effort to catch transport to take them to their respective workplaces.

Some, who bought monthly tickets and could not raise enough money to take taxis, had to stay home.

Hawkers who have vending stalls in the city and travel by train daily were badly affected.

Nokubonga Mbatha from Umlazi said she woke up at 5am, hoping to catch a taxi.

"At the time, there was a long queue already and it was frustrating because I thought I would be among the first to line up," she said.

Metro rail spokesperson Thandi Mkhize said: No trains were operating in the morning.

"We have about 180000 commuters daily travelling in Metrorail trains. Thus, it would have been impossible for us to arrange buses like we normally accommodate them if it's a small group striking. But not when it is as big as this one," she said.

Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge said no incidents of violence had been reported to the police.

KwaZulu-Natal Taxi Alliance spokesperson Bafana Mhlongo said taxi drivers were up by 3am yesterday to ensure commuters would arrive on time at their destinations.

"We have worked very hard since the morning. Our drivers will finish work very late to make sure that everyone gets home safely," said Mhlongo.


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