MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE: Police deployed to flashpoints across the Mozambican capital of Maputo on Thursday (15 November), as a transport strike against bus fare hikes forced tens of thousands to cross the city on foot.
Shops, government ministries and banks in the city shuttered their doors fearing violence, amid protests against a local government-mandated fare increase of 40%.
An AFP reporter witnessed a heavy police presence across the city, as some mobile phone services were jammed to prevent protestors from organising.
The proposal to increase fares has prompted fears that violence seen after an attempted hike in 2008 will be repeated. Four people were killed during rioting at the time.
Citizens in this overwhelmingly poor city complain they cannot afford to pay the higher costs.
"The problem is our salaries have not gone up. The middle class is suffering," said state employee, Brigit Semedo.
Only a handful of private minibus taxis ignored a planned strike to operate on their routes, making travel difficult.
Two hours into a journey that normally takes one hour Semedo still had not reached her destination. "I may have to turn back," she said.
The ordinarily crowded terminal in central Maputo was virtually empty, although municipal buses were running normally.
Many thousands of people were walking through the streets.
The authorities say fare increases are the only way to revitalise a struggling transport system.
The city has only 250 public buses to ferry about two million commuters, forcing many desperate travellers to jump onto open-topped lorries to get to their destination.
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