Taxi Striks before 2010

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MAYHEM erupted as hundreds of striking taxi drivers ran amok early yesterday, hurling stones at offices and passing cars, attacking municipal workers, setting a vehicle alight, blocking rush- hour traffic and crippling businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Amid widespread condemnation over the wave of violence, urgent talks between city officials and taxi representatives collapsed late last night with defiant drivers vowing the wildcat strike would continue today, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.

Police, who yesterday drafted in reinforcements including the crack flying squad and rapid response unit members, will be on “high alert”. Police Captain Rassie Erasmus declared: “We will not let taxi drivers hold the city to ransom”.

The drama unfolded yesterday when more than 300 taxi drivers opposed to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system being implemented for the 2010 World Cup blocked major roads including the N2 freeway near Bluewater Bay and the Uitenhage road near Vista University.

Police arrested six people for public violence and confiscated “a number of taxis blocking the roads”. Motorists were left fuming in long traffic jams while many commuters were unable to get to work.

Traffic police and SAPS vehicles were stoned while a municipal vehicle was set alight outside Brister House in Govan Mbeki Avenue.

Police spokesman Captain Johann Rheeder said about 30 men ran up to a municipal car and smashed the windows. “They poured petrol on the car and set it alight.”

Yesterday‘s havoc follows an orgy of violence and looting, which raged in several parts of the city last November, leaving one person dead and others injured.

Police in Nyalas were deployed to quell the protests and officers were forced to fire rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

Nelson Mandela Bay municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said last night: “These violent actions do not belong in a peace-loving society.”

He added that workers at a BRT construction site in Govan Mbeki Avenue were attacked and offices stoned.

However a defiant metro public transport forum spokesman Melekile Hani told The Herald last night: “We are pledging our solidarity to our comrades. We are not going back to work! Until the municipality agrees to suspend work at BRT sites, and we secure the release of our arrested comrades, the strike continues. We apologise to commuters, but they must understand we are at war!”

Meanwhile, Port Elizabeth Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Odwa Mtati said the strike had “succeeded in causing maximum disruption” to businesses. “The shock of it was that no warnings were issued, so it‘s been very disruptive, especially since large parts of the industry only re-opened on Monday.”

The motor industry, particularly General Motors SA, was hit hard. GMSA spokesman Denise van Huyssteen said: “We are disappointed by the surprise strike, which has impacted on our ability to assemble vehicles.

“We only resumed full operations yesterday following a four-week break. Such actions send negative signals about doing business in this country, particularly at a time when we should be promoting political and economic stability.”

Eveready “definitely felt the impact of the strike”, spokesman Curt Bosman said. “Our workers on the afternoon shift have to leave earlier because they won‘t find taxis later, so we‘ll have to stop production. We might not even have nightshift.”

The DA also condemned the violence and chaos. Eastern Cape transport spokesman Pine Pienaar said: “The situation is just not acceptable”.

Kupido said the strike was especially disappointing “since this disruptive behaviour followed after an important meeting on Tuesday between the mayor and the industry.

“A task team consisting of representatives of the taxi industry and the municipality was established with the sole mandate to prepare for a transport indaba which will address the concerns of role-players in the industry.

“Despite this progressive step, some members of the taxi industry still went ahead with strike action and as a result inconvenienced many commuters who unfortunately rely solely on public transport.”

source : The herald

Techno-wise teens flock to stores for “Twitter-tracking” Apple iPhone gizmo

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Melody Brandon WEEKEND POST REPORTER brandonm@avusa.co.za

Apple 3G iPhone South Africa Port Elizabeth UitenhageTHE eagerly-awaited Apple iPhone, released earlier this month complete with all the frills and fancies craved by gizmo-lovers, has seen cellphone stores in the Eastern and Southern Cape cleared out of their stock by frenzied buyers.

Not only are the young- at-heart clamouring for the latest cellphone toy which sells for R9000 for the handset on its own or R2000 and more on a two-year contract, but youngsters are also managing to get their mitts on the prized gadget.

Already some teenagers’ relentless nagging has paid off with brow-beaten parents flocking to stores en masse to buy the product for children as young as 14 years old, according to sales staff.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from Apple (company) fans who are familiar with the brand. The younger age group are our biggest buyers,” said Naasig Seharnick, a Port Elizabeth cellphone salesman at Cellucity. “Parents come in and pay cash for the phone.”

As if a complete library of music or photo albums was not enough, the phone also gives frequent Twitter updates“, short, SMS-like sentences stating what friends are up to throughout the day on the internet, as well as users’ global positioning system (GPS) co-ordinates.

East London cellphone salesman Renier North said despite the option of other cellphones which could do “similar things”, the iPhone was still coming out tops, especially among Apple technology lovers.

George salesman Geovan Theron said his customers chose the handset over all the others available. “With the iPhone you are getting the raw product that you can download applications for, so you can choose what you want,” he said.

And although better-halves might be occupying second place to the shiny toy, they can feel treasured as its handy GPS positioning means they can check up on their loved ones day or night, with their current co-ordinates posted on the internet via Twitter.

But with the lightening release of new technology comes the quicker pace of replacements, with website giants Google on the cusp of releasing their answer to the iPhone, the G1, or Google phone, heading to South Africa next year.

Techno-junkies say it’s bad news for Apple, but good news for consumers.

For those wanting to read a first-hand iPhone user’s account, log onto Justin McCabe’s blog and scroll down to the iPhone blog entry.

source: Weekend Post
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