Cops pelted with stones over fares hike

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Angry commuters at Inchanga near Cato Ridge yesterday pelted police with stones while protesting against increases in taxi fares.

Local schools and businesses were disrupted as angry commuters demanded that taxi operators in the area do away with a R1,50 fare increase.

No injuries were reported but the situation remained tense late yesterday.

The protesters took to the streets as early as 5am, blockading roads with rocks and bricks. Armed with sticks, spears and hammers, they also burnt tyres to prevent taxis from using the main road into the township.

As the morning progressed, the strikers forced workers and pupils to join their march.

Extra police, who were deployed to the scene, fired rubber bullets in a bid to disperse the crowd. The community retaliated by throwing stones and bottles at the police.

The protest against the fares hike began on Wednesday. Community member Mthembeni Shozi said the community felt they had not been consulted.

"A recent meeting was held between the community and taxi operators but no final decision was taken. At the meeting we asked that they consult with us before any increases. We also asked that they improve service delivery. Instead, we are now faced with a R1,50 fare increase," Shozi said.

He said commuters now had to pay R13 to get to Pinetown.

He said a mass meeting had been planned between local councillors, taxi operators and the community to find a solution to the protest.

Provincial Taxi Alliance's Willie Mbhense said the high cost of living and the ever-rising price of petrol had led to the increase.

"Taxi operators are also members of the community. We are also affected. We should join hands and protest against these increases, instead of being angry at each other," Mbhense said.