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Commuters stranded‚ late for work as bus strike kicks off

12 April 2017 - 10:52 By Sipho Mabena And Aphiwe Deklerk

Thousands of commuters have been left stranded as bus drivers went on strike on Wednesday.

Hundreds of commuters queued at the Bara Taxi Rank in Soweto as Putco and Reavaya services were affected.

The Johannesburg Metrobus service was running as normal‚ however few commuters were seen on some buses early on Wednesday morning.

At the bus depot in Ghandi Square in the Johannesburg city centre‚ many bus commuters said they were unaware of the strike.

Stranded commuters in and around Pretoria had to flag down anything on wheels and stand in long queues to get to work.

In Atteridgeville‚ West of Pretoria‚ some people had to wake up earlier than usual to allow for enough time to get to work.

Julia Ntuli‚29‚ a cashier in Sunnyside‚ had to wake up at 4am instead of her normal time of 5am to get to work by 7am but still didn't make it on time.

  • Bus strike deal 'urgent'As a nationwide bus strike planned for today is set to affect thousands of commuters, the Department of Transport says it has no "plan B" to help stranded passengers. 

“When I heard the advise to get alternative transport last night‚ I had to prepare myself to start my day earlier so that I have enough time to find transport because I knew it would be unusually busy at taxi ranks and train stations‚” she said.

With the rain pouring down hard‚ she and many others waited in the queue for a taxi at Jeffesville informal settlement.

Though she got to the taxi rank at 5am‚ she only got onto the taxi at 7:30 meaning she would be late for work.

By 8am most people had left the township for work and only a few people were still waiting under bus shelters to protect themselves from the light rainfall as they waited for taxis.

 

 

Earlier on in KwaMhlanga‚ about 70Km North East of Pretoria‚ where most people rely on Putco buses to get to work daily‚ commuters lined up along Moloto Road flagging down cars and bakkies.

Koos Mahlangu‚ a construction worker‚ was not even sure if getting to work was worth the trouble as it was raining and they were unlikely to work in such a weather.

“I am thinking of going back home because it is raining anyway and some us work outside and when it rains it means no work for us‚” he said.

  • Bus strike could affect anti-Zuma march to Union BuildingsProtesters planning to attend the march against President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday could find themselves stranded if they plan to use buses to get to Church Square in Pretoria.

In Cape Town‚ many bus commuters had to find alternative ways to get to work.

Both Golden Arrow and MyCiTi buses are not operating in the city forcing commuters to opt for taxis or travel by car.

Bus terminals which are usually packed by Golden Arrow buses are empty this morning.

Dumo Dlungwana‚ who travels daily between the city centre and Tableview said he now has to take two taxis to work.

He recharges his MyCiTi card for R720 a month but now he has to pay R36 for a return trip.

“This will delay me because most people use MyCiTi and there are few taxis that use the Table View route. It will be even worse after work‚” said Dlungwana.

Lawukazi Msuthu who usually commutes using a Golden Arrow bus between Gugulethu and the city centre said she wanted buses back as soon as possible because they are comfortable to use.

  • SA bus commuters scramble to make transport plans ahead of national strike by driversSouth African commuters are scrambling to find alternative transport ahead of a planned nationwide bus drivers’ strike over pay that is scheduled to start on Wednesday morning. 

She has bought her monthly ticket of R488 and now has to make other means to pay a return taxi fare of R30. “I don’t earn a lot of money and now I have to borrow money ... they must please bring back the buses. You know these taxis are always speeding‚” she said.

"The train was not as packed as I expected. The train just stood for a few minutes between stations otherwise everything was normal‚'' said Claredeen Manuel who travels from Kraaifontein to the Cape Town CBD by bus.

 

Meanwhile‚ unions are refusing to budge‚ putting the blame squarely on employers who have not come up with a better offer.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa spokesperson‚ Phakamile Hlubi‚ said their 7500 workers will continue with the strike until the employer returns with a revised offer. Those striking include long distance bus drivers.

The unions are demanding a 12% salary increase along with overtime pay.

South African Transport Workers’ Union spokesperson‚ Zanele Sabela‚ said their workers will not be marching but will be congregating in different bus depots.

- Additional reporting Kgaugelo Masweneng

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