Striking drivers threaten to halt city

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Striking bus drivers and waste collectors have threatened to bring Durban to a standstill if the eThekwini municipality continues denying them permission to march.

Hundreds of bus drivers and waste collectors were once again refused permission to march to the City Hall to hand over their grievances to municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe yesterday.

The drivers, accompanied by striking Durban Solid Waste employees and officials of the KwaZulu-Natal Taxi Alliance, had planned to defiantly march down the streets of the Durban CBD when police were deployed at the Botha Gardens in the morning.

As hundreds of angry bus drivers mobilised in the park for the illegal march, a war of words erupted between them and the police.

The strikers remained within the park an sang protest songs.

The drivers reluctantly decided not to continue with the march and opted to give the municipality 48 hours to reconsider its decision.

The strikers have been refused permission to march three time since the strike started a month ago.

Alfred Zondi, a spokesman for the drivers, said the municipality's decision to refuse them the right to march was politically motivated.

"We have been refused the right to protest three times. Where is the justice in that?"

Zondi said the fact that negotiations have been deadlocked for a week showed that the people who were responsible for making decisions at the municipality did not care about the workers' plight.

Zondi blamed MEC for transport Bheki Cele for failing to intervene in the dispute.

Cele was reportedly expected to meet the management of Remant Alton yesterday to try and find a solution to the strike.

The workers are demanding that they be employed by the municipality and not the bus company. They claim there was financial mismanagement at the bus company.