Hundreds of people blocked Bogota’s southern highway and a mass transit bus system station for over two hours on Tuesday in a protest against poor public transport.
The most congested station of Bogota’s TransMilenio system, the San Mateo in the bordering city of Soacha, was blocked by protesters infuriated with delays in transportation services and the rise in travel fares.
Apart from blocking the turnstiles at the exit and the entrance to the station, the demonstrators also crowded into some of the lanes of the southern expressway causing heavy traffic jam. The congestion was relieved at about 10:30 when the protesters were dispersed by force, informed Bogotá Transit.
Members of the Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (Esmad) threw tear gas to lift the blockades of the southern highway, connecting Bogota with the Soacha municipality, among other townships in the area. Some clashes with protesters were also reported.
In consequence of the turmoil, majority of the commuters opted to walk to work. However, others remained waiting in buses. “I have to wait up to 40 minutes to get to the center, and this is very dangerous, we are being held up here,” said one of the passengers to El Tiempo.
There were protests in other TransMilenio stations on the line to Soacha. In Terreros, demonstrators complained about delays in the expansion of the system and the construction of the Cazuca cable car.
Both projects are awaiting the necessary resources from the central government. Their construction would shorten the traveling time from 40 to approximately 15 minutes.
The protests occur amidst ongoing discussions between municipal, district and national governments to create a metropolitan between Bogota and Soacha in order to fix problems of transportation and security.
TransMilenio announced that for now, stations La Despense, Leon XIII, Terreros and San Mateo are closed. Buses going to Portal del Sur and returning towards the north of the city are not stopping in Soacha.