By Bongiwe Dlamini | 2020-08-26
CHAOS broke out at the Manzini Bus Rank yesterday morning when kombi conductors protested against permitting Manzini/Mbabane public transport to resume normal operations.
The protesting kombi conductors were those working in transport servicing the Manzini/Mbabane routes.
Information gathered was to the effect that the conductors were irked by the Swaziland Local Transport Association’s decision to have all kombis operating from Manzini to Mbabane to resume operations while those from the Mbabane side still maintained working in teams/groups.
Since the partial lockdown was effected in March, all kombis have been operating in groups and each worked for four days.
However, when Form III pupils returned to class on Monday, it is alleged that the association’s officials assumed that there are more commuters since Form Vs and most businesses have already opened as well so the order that all kombis servicing the Manzini/Mbabane and Lobamba routes resume operations as normal was made.
It was also gathered that now that the kombis are not all at work, the association loses money in rank fees that could be paid by operating transport. This did not sit well with the conductors on the Mbabane side as they were still using the schedules that were drawn up to allow them to work four days per team.
According to the conductors, if all kombis were allowed to resume work as per the association’s order, it would make their work challenging considering that public transport is only allowed to load up to 80 per cent of its capacity.
“If we all resume duties, there will be problems because some of us will not be able to work,” said an angry conductor.
It was for this reason that the aggrieved conductors waited for all kombis from Mbabane at the entrance of the bus rank and forced them to park within the bus rank until a satisfactory decision was made by the association’s officials.
When blocking their colleagues, a traffic jam was caused and commuters were forced to alight as far as Mzimnene River and walk into the city. Some of the Mbabane kombis that were already at the bus rank could not leave as the angry conductors blocked the exit point by placing boulders as barricade.
The protest started around 8am and ended at 10am. The Manzini/Lobamba/Mbabane kombis operators are not the only ones who had been told to resume operations but transport operators servicing the Manzini/Mobeni route also face the same.
However, these were not part of the mini-protest as kombi marshals decided to amicably solve the issue on their own.
Swaziland Local Transport Association (SLTA) Chairperson Mandla Dlamini said an interim resolution was that the kombis continue operating using their schedules until Friday when the association’s executive would make a final decision.
When asked who had made the call to order all the Manzini/Mbabane kombis to operate, Dlamini said it was a unanimous resolution made by both the Mbabane and Manzini executive members.
“Unfortunately it seems like the Manzini side had a change of heart, hence the near-chaos that was witnessed in the morning,” said the chairperson.
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