Commuters bus strike woes

Summer Greens residents waiting for a taxi.

Cape Town’s long-suffering commuters were holding their breaths, as Tabletalk went to print this week, that a new wage offer would break the deadlock behind an almost month-long bus strike.

At the weekend, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) – which has mediated between the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and the employers – proposed a 8.75% pay hike this year with an 8.25% increase for the next two years.

Satawu spokeswoman, Zanele Sabele said they were still consulting with the workers and should know by the end of today whether they accepted the offer or not.

“We must remember that this strike is about the bus drivers, and if they are not satisfied, then they will not accept the offer and the strike will go on,” she said.

MyCiTi and Golden Arrow Bus Services (GABS) have remained suspended.

The strike, which has now entered its third week, has taken its toll on commuters.

Like most places in Cape Town, Summer Greens bus users have had to use minibus taxis and other forms of transport that are often more expensive.

MyCiTi commuter Takunda Mjevu said he had to wait nearly an hour in the morning to get a taxi. “As if that isn’t bad enough, traffic is a nightmare because everyone is on the roads now,” said Mr Mjevu.

Simphiwe Bam has been using the taxi for as long as he can remember.

“Look, I won’t say that it was always a joy to travel with taxis because you are always worried if your driver will be reckless. But since the strike, it’s been really bad. Having to wait for about two hours at the taxi rank for a taxi home is ridiculous,” he said.

GABS said bus passengers should retain their clip cards as they would get a blanket extension when services resumed. And school pupils with term clip cards should also keep them as they would need to hand them in when buying a third-term card to qualify for a discount.

Constance Mlambo, who usually catches the MyCiTi bus, said she sympathised with the strikers.

“I hope they can get what they are looking for. It’s sad to see that people in this country still have to fight for basic wages and for the amount of work they do and things they have to deal with from sometimes rude commuters, I feel for them.”

Sizwe Mjali, who alternates between Golden Arrow and MyCiTi, criticised the taxis in Summer Greens.

“Our area hardly has any taxis and they are also becoming unreliable. It’s 8.20am right now and I have been here since 7.45am. This is one of the reasons why I stopped using them years ago.”