Many businesses could not open on Wednesday as people were not able to get to work.

SA roads blocked due to fuel prices

Major routes in and out of several areas in Mpumalanga, including the Mbombela (Nelspruit) CBD, have been blocked by taxi drivers protesting against the rising cost of fuel.

Some truck drivers were allegedly forced out of their vehicles, which were then used to block roads on Wednesday.

Provincial police had their hands full as they moved from one area to the next to try to calm the situation, which left some passengers stranded and motorists unable to pass. 

Many businesses could not open on Wednesday as people were not able to get to work.

Community members around Mbombela, Barberton, Matsulu, Ngodini and surrounding areas joined the protest, saying the petrol price hikes had triggered food price increases.

Blocked roads include: in Kaapschehoop; the N4 from Matsulu and Malelane; the R40 from Barberton; in Mashishing (Lydenburg); in KaBokweni; and in the Mbombela CBD.

Provincial police spokesperson Brig Selvy Mohlala said at least eight people have been arrested.

“For now the Nelspruit CBD seems calm but we are moving to other areas in KaNyamazane, Emkhatsini and more.

“We have arrested eight suspects on charges of public disturbance and public violence. They are being processed as we speak,” said Mohlala.

Topstar taxi association chairperson Johan Mavundla said they want a reduction in fuel prices.

“This is hard for us. Last week we were talking about fare price increments, which we haven’t done yet, and now the petrol price goes up by more than R2 a litre.

Rolling roadblocks have brought parts of the M4 to a standstill as protesters target motorways in a demonstration over high fuel prices.

“As the management we are able to talk to our people to calm down, 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 this [price hikes] will collapse our business. Taxis drive for the entire day. We are the biggest petrol buyers as we ferry passengers, so this is hitting us hard,” said Mavundla.

Scelo Mokoena from Ngodini said: “Our government doesn’t care about us. They know the high unemployment rate but they keep increasing the petrol price, which will hit us hard as the unemployed, because that will mean food prices increase too. We can’t afford food — but instead of coming with a remedy for that, they increase prices more.

“People in government don’t know the lives we are living because they are fed from our taxes. They don’t buy food. That is why we decided to join the taxi drivers. We are saying an injury to one is an injury to all.”— SowetanLIVE

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