The wildcat MyCiTi bus strike has seen dangerous overcrowding on taxis, and schools on the bus lines are having to scramble to make alternative transport plans for matrics writing their finals.
The MyCiTi bus drivers started their strike last Monday, throwing Cape Town’s roads – already congested by a broken rail service – into further chaos.
Commuters left in the lurch by the strike told how a 45-minute ride to work had turned into a two-hour ordeal. Others simply had no choice but to stay home.
Some, like Lulama Mthembu, were left stranded at the Jansens MyCiTi station in Table View on Monday October 15.
“I got to the station around 7.15am on Monday. I know it usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour for my full journey to work. I work in retail so at 8.30am I need to be at work as we open at 9am.
“After 30 minutes of waiting at the bus stop, and no MyCiTi staff telling me and the other commuters what was going on, one person said that there was a strike and they had seen this on Facebook. I missed work that Monday because I was depending on the bus.
“It took me two hours to get to work the following day because of traffic and the constant stop and go by the taxi I took,” she said.
MyCiTi users riding a taxi from Table View on Friday morning complained that the strike had not only inconvenienced them it had also put them in danger.
Nomsa Jikela lives in Sunningdale and had to walk to Blaauwberg Road to get a taxi to Cape Town. She regretted doing so.
“A taxi is usually an 18-seater, but if you look now, there are nearly 25 people in this taxi. This is a dangerous situation, and imagine if traffic cops stop us, that’s another 20 minutes of standing on the side of the road making us later than we already are,” she said.
Ms Mthembu fumed that two MyCiTi staff at the station had said nothing about the strike before she and other commuters had used their cards to swipe in.
Julie May, who also uses MyCiTi, said the wildcat strike had prevented her from going to work on Monday.
“I solely depend on the bus,
and I couldn’t make arrangements
to get to work on Monday. I saw reports saying that this is an illegal strike, which makes me wonder if there aren’t any other parties involved trying to disrupt things,” she said.
Tabletalk saw desperate commuters throwing caution to the wind and rushing across busy Blaauwberg Road to catch city-bound taxis.
Some commuters we spoke to accused the taxis of cashing in on the strike by raising their fares – a trip that usually cost R14 now cost R17, they claimed.
Dunoon Taxi Association secretary general Frank Qotyiwe said a taxi ride from Bayside Mall to Cape Town should cost customers R15.
“Taxi drivers that ask for more money are taking advantage of our people, and we can’t allow this to happen. If people face this issue in a taxi from Table View to town, they should contact us on 021 556 2422,” he said.
Mr Qotyiwe said overloading should also be reported.
“Overloading of a vehicle is illegal and that should be stopped as well. Again, if people see this happen, they should take down the details of that taxi and contact us.”
City workers aren’t the only ones who have been feeling the pain: Bloubergrant High School pupils have been coming late in dribs and drabs over the course of last week, according to the principal, Malcolm Pedro.
“We did not punish them, as we usually do with latecomers, because we understand the issues faced by our learners and the effects that recent protests have had on them. Our major concern is what is going to happen to matriculants who start writing their final exams on Monday,” Mr Pedro said.
Milnerton High School principal, Paul Besner said many of his pupils relied on MyCiTi.
“On Monday, the matrics started writing the CAT (computer applications technology) exam, and we had a pupil who was not going to make it because she lives in Duynefontein. I sent a school bus with one of the teachers to fetch the pupil because we can’t have the pupils not writing their exams.”
He said he hoped things would return to
normal this week.
“If not, we have contingency plans to ensure that our children write their exams because this is their future we’re talking about,” he said.
According to matric exam rules, candidates may be admitted into an examination room provided they arrive within one hour of the exam starting, but they don’t get extra time to complete the paper.
Since the beginning of the strike, most of
the MyCiTi bus services have been suspended
with a few routes still operating. From last
week Wednesday, there have been a few buses coming from Atlantis via Table View going to Cape Town.
These buses have no set schedule so commuters just stand at the bus stop hoping and praying that a bus will come for them.