BOGOTA – Protests by passengers brought the bus system to a standstill on the south side of Bogota, where a large police contingent was deployed to control the disturbance, the second this week in the Colombian capital.
As already happened on Wednesday, dozens of people protested around 6 a.m. – the rush hour – for what they consider the worst possible service.
The demonstration took place at Soacha, on the south side of Bogota, where thousands of people live who work or study in the capital, and who on Friday found themselves going nowhere, with long delays or a complete shutdown of the Transmilenio bus system.
After almost three hours of protests, riot police showed up at the scene, where they activated a water cannon to disperse the protesters, some of whom responded by throwing rocks at the cops.
It was the second protest this week against the Transmilenio system, which recently raised its ticket price from 1,800 to 2,000 pesos (52 cents to 58 cents).
The increase sparked great resentment among low-income riders, particularly those getting by on the minimum wage, equivalent to roughly $201 a month.
Added to that were the usual complaints about delays in the service and the scarcity of buses.
After the protests on Wednesday, Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa said the blockage of Transmilenio was done for political reasons and announced sanctions against people who disturb the peace in this city of almost 8 million inhabitants.
“There are politically organized saboteurs. They’re committing crimes, they’ve damaged buses and are ruining the quality of life of many people. They are the citizens’ enemies,” Peñalosa said.