Accusations of apartheid have been made against a Swedish bus operator after one of their drivers allegedly forced his black and white passengers to travel on separate vehicles.
The unnamed worker allegedly separated Swedes and “foreign-looking” people as he transported them between Stockholm and the Eckerölinjen ferry terminal in Grisslehamn last Wednesday and Thursday.
The incident prompted in furious complaints to the bus operator People Travel Group, who say the driver has since been removed from the route.
Samer Chatila, who was one of the passengers ordered not to sit on the “white” bus, said he felt “insulted, offended and discriminated against” during the incident.
“It was a very unpleasant experience. It felt like we were on our way to Arlanda airport to be deported from Sweden,” added the mechanical engineering student.
Chatila who was traveling with his brother and a friend at the time, was one of many passengers on their way to catch the ferry from Sweden to the island of Åland.
While on the bus, Chatila and his companions noticed that the bus driver was dividing passengers up based on their looks.
The driver allegedly stood between the exit and the bus and pointed Chatila’s group to one of the buses, even following them to make sure they got on board.
Chatila said that at first they’d thought the driver was just being friendly. Then, they noticed that all the “Swedish-looking” passengers were being directed to a different bus, while everyone who boarded their bus was foreign-looking or dark-skinned.
Chatila said that when they challenged the driver about what he was doing, he was told that if they did not like the system they could get off the bus.
The driver has since claimed that the bus that Chatila’s group were on was just for passengers who had booked their trip in advance, while the other bus would make several stops to pick up more passengers.
However, that story lacks credibility as Chatila’s group had not pre-booked and both buses stopped to pick up passengers.
People Travel Group director Tomas Karlsson said the driver is due to appear before a disciplinary board on Monday to explain his actions. In addition, the company is introducing new training for staff.
“It seems like this was a single driver’s decision and it only happened twice, but that is bad enough,” Karlsson said.