Rickshaw Ruckus

I have really been sucking at posting news articles about Madagascar lately. I have an inbox full of them, just haven't really had the time to get them up.

So, I'll start today. Here are two articles, both published January 19th, 2011. (Thankfully), the translation into English is already done when I receive them. When this all happened we got a text message to stay out of town, which wasn't a big deal. I've heard that they'll be back on strike next week.

For those that don't know, a pousse-pousse/rickshaw looks like this: Article #1
700 rickshaw cycles impounded

The 42 people arrested during the clash in Toamasina last Monday were not yet released until late yesterday. At the latest news, about 700 rickshaw cycles were impounded during the roundup conducted by the police since Saturday. Monday night, police have patrolled in the whole city to contain the demonstrations that occurred in several places. Yesterday, the calm came back in the capital of Betsimisaraka. Storekeepers opened their stores and students went back to school. The intransigence of the urban commune of Toamasina regarding the rickshaw cycles papers sparked things out. A demonstration was brewing since Saturday when the local authorities demanded the “capacity” that can be only delivered by the municipality. After two days of intransigence of the police, rickshaw drivers demonstrated on the street. The protestation vague got worse, leading to the intervention of the elements of the “Etat Major Mixte “of the Atsinanana Region.

Article #2
Forty Arrests in a dead city, 300 rickshaws Impounded

Toamasina: All public transportation took a break from the road axis of the capital of the Atsinanana Region. Stores and shops in the city center as well as in neighborhoods had a long

Indian stores at Bazary-be closed since Saturday, the market day. This is what the people of the big port city experienced yesterday. No rickshaws, rickshaw-cycles, buses or taxis carried on their
daily occupation. Students used to taking the three transportation means listed above were late to school. Only private cars, bicycles, motorcycles occupied roads and boulevards, in addition to police vehicles doing patrols. The economic capital of Madagascar becomes a dead city under the pressures from these latter who gathered at EMMO REG.

This is how forty strikers were arrested, especially along the Melville Boulevard. In fact, a gathering was noticed early in the morning yesterday at the crossroad in Morarano. This fokontany is known as the neighborhood where rickshaw jockeys live, the reason why all political and social tensions involving this class happens in this location. According to local authorities, these strikers tried to walk around the city and most of them are rickshaw drawers and/or jockeys.

No demonstration was noticed, though members of the police dispersed everyone along the boulevard. Strikers erected road blockades in the fokontany of Tanambao III, Ambolomadinika, Mangarivotra, and Mangarano. The local population started to throw stones and irons to the police.
The EMMO REG operation led to twenty arrests charged with demonstration in public roads, call for civil disobedience, and erection of road blockades. However, most jockeys and rickshaw-cycle owners have regularized their administrative files at the Urban Municipality of Toamasina, at the tax office and at insurance companies. Related documents such as transportation license, insurance card, road-fund license, technical inspection card as well as jockey’s ability and national identity card are controlled by members of the traffic police service.

Note that a rickshaw-cycle jockey must pay about 100,000 Ariary to have all these papers, and this, unexpectedly after the holidays and in the middle of January when business is not at peak. In short, arrests were made to curb rickshaw and rickshaw-cycle owners and jockeys’ claims. The staffs of the urban municipality of Toamasina are swamped with the regularization of the files imposed by the municipal order.

From a well-informed source, we learned that it is the executive of the Atsinanana Region that threw this banana skin to the special delegation of the urban municipality of Toamasina to literally implement these orders, which have always created social tensions in the big port city. The demonstration could expand today with other social claims. Only this weekend, over 300 rickshaw-cycles are impounded. Absence of transportation means is still foreseen.

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  1. Nicole, Do they have buses anywhere in MG? G&Gxxoo


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