Key routes in and out of several areas in Mpumalanga, including the central business district of Mbombela (Nelspruit), have been blocked by taxi drivers protesting rising fuel prices.
Some truck drivers have reportedly been forced to their vehicles, which were then used to block roads on Wednesday.
Provincial police had their hands full as they drove from one area to the next to try and control the situation calm leaving some passengers and motorists stranded did not happen.
Many shops could not open on Wednesday as people could not come to work.
Community members in Mbombela, Barberton, Matsulu , Ngodini and the surrounding area joined the protest, saying fuel price hikes have led to higher food prices.
The roads closed include:
- in Kaapschehoop;
- the N4 from Matsulu and Malelane;
- the R40 from Barberton;
- at Mashishing (Lydenburg);
- at KaBokweni; and
- in the central business district of Mbombela.
Provincial Police Spokesman Brig Selvy Mohlala said at least eight people have been arrested.
“Right now the Nelspruit CBD appears to be quiet but we are moving to other areas in KaNyamazane, Emkhatsini and more.
“We have arrested eight suspects for public disorder and public violence. They are being processed as we speak,” said Mohlala.
The chairman of the Topstar Taxi Association, Johan Mavundla, said that they want a reduction in fuel prices.
“That is hard for us. Last week we talked about fare increases, which we haven’t done yet, and now the price of petrol is going up by more than R2 per liter.
“As management, we can talk to our people to put our minds at ease, but this time they didn’t want to hear a word from us. Instead, they recruited other associations and took to the streets.
“We have no choice but to rally behind them because we know that these [price hikes] will collapse our business. Taxis run all day. We are the biggest buyers of petrol as we carry passengers, so it hits us hard,” said Mavundla.
Scelo Mokoena from Ngodini said: “Our government doesn’t care about us. You know the unemployment rate is high, but they keep raising the price of gas, which will hit us hard as unemployed because it will also increase food prices. We can’t afford food – but instead of fixing it, they keep raising the prices.
“People in government don’t know how we live because they’re fed by our taxes. You don’t buy food. That’s why we decided to join the taxi drivers. We say that a hurt for everyone is a hurt for everyone.”
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