Bus strike is hurting commuters

Mamsiya Tasana cannot wait for buses to operate again. But in the meantime she will have to be strong.

The unplanned transition from buses to minibus taxis is taking its toll on most bus commuters.

As the ongoing bus strike entered its third week, and negotiations between the employer and the unions once again collapsed on Thursday May 3, some bus commuters said they were losing sleep as a result and were sinking into debt.

Nyanga resident, Mamsiya Tasana, described the transition as “taxing” .

She now has to spend R45 a day to and from work, a total of R205 a week compared to R107, 50 for a clipcard from Nyanga to CapeGate, in Brackenfell.

She now takes a taxi from Nyanga to Bellville and another taxi to CapeGate. This, she said, forced her to borrow money instead of saving it.

“We are in a difficult situation,” she said. “The strike came unexpectedly. And there is always that hope that buses will be running soon, but it not happening. “This applies to many people that I spoke to. People are struggling with the new transition.”

She said the change had also taken its toll on her health.

Ms Tasana said she has to “push” her way into the taxis in the morning and afternoon to get to work and home on time.

Her sleeping and waking up times have changed because of the long queues at the taxi ranks.

“The challenge with the taxis is that you wait in long queues. You must expect shoving and pushing to get in, especially in the afternoons.

“The mornings are okay. But it is a free-for-all situation in the afternoon. Young people have no mercy. They roughly push us aside,” she said. “Health wise, that is not good. Every time you think of going to work or home, your heart pumps hard with fear.”

With each day, she worries whether she will make it home or work safely.

Ms Tasana said she stopped using the mini bus taxis some time ago, for health reasons.

“They are driving me crazy,” she said. “Remember some of us are not young anymore. With such driving, our hearts can stop any time. Every time you get to the taxis you say a little prayer,” she said.

Ms Tasana has only one wish, buses should come back.

“When are they resolving their issues? I cannot wait,” she said.

Unfortunately for Ms Tasana there is no end in sight for the strike yet.

Efforts are expected to continue to resolve the impasse.

After initially demanding a 12% increase, the unions led by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) revised their mandate to 9%, while the employer is offering 8.5% in the first year and 8% for the second year.

South Africa Transport and Allied Workers’ Union spokesperson, Zanele Sabela, accused the bus companies of negotiating in bad faith.

She said workers are demanding a 9.5% salary increase for the first year and 8.5% for the second year. She said the employers have now reverted to an 8% offer.

Yesterday, Wednesday May 9, the unions were still engaging members on a new offer of 8.75% for the first year and 8.25% for the second year. The offer had been proposed by the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC).

MyCiTi and Golden Arrow have urged commuters to continue seeking alternative modes of transport until the impasse has been resolved.

The strike entered its fourth week yesterday.