National bus strike threat to business

29 April 2013 - 02:53 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE and NIVASHNI NAIR

The current bus strike could bring businesses across South Africa to their knees as public transport services in the major cities face threats of intimidation and violence.

In Cape Town the city's multi-billion-rand transport service was suspended after threats on Friday that its MyCiti buses and infrastructure would be vandalised.

Thousands of commuters use the MyCiti service daily.

Though still operating, Durban's Mynah bus service faces similar threats, and eThekwini's independent People Mover bus company has ground to a halt.

Cape Town spokesman Kylie Hatton said the MyCiti bus service transports about 12000 people a day.

"MyCiti has decided to suspend all services due to threats of violence," said Hatton.

"MyCiTi has striven to continue operating the service during the strike," said Hatton, "because it is aware of the substantial impact that a lack of public transport can have on our residents.

"It was a combination of some of our own drivers not coming to work, threats of intimidation and violence, and [threats] that our infrastructure would be targeted" that led to the suspension.

Fred Jacobs, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said the strike would cripple businesses if it continued.

"Taxi fares have shot up and people are spending an enormous amount on taxis. In some cases fares have increased by nearly 300%.

"This is not a surprising approach that the taxi industry has taken, but it is taking a toll on people's budgets," said Jacobs.

"There are no exact figures with respect to loss of productivity and the financial effect on businesses but if the strike continues it will definitely have an impact."

eThekwini municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said that though the city bus service, including the Mynah bus system, was still operational, the municipality had received reports from employees of intimidation.

"We are assessing the situation. Though the strike has inconvenienced commuters it has failed to stop the city's bus service, taxis and trains.

"Though it hasn't dented Durban's public transport system, we are taking it as it comes and are advising commuters, if there are problems, to seek alternative transport," he said.

Vincent Masoga, a spokesman for the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union, said the strike would continue this week.

He denied that the union's members were behind the threats of vandalism and intimidation.

"We are not part of those threats ... we are focused on getting the employers back to the negotiation table," said Masoga.

"We are unhappy about the . employers meeting workers at night. We are adamant that we will continue with the strike action."