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Batandwa Malingo
 
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My daily struggle to get to work in the “world class city in Africa”

20 March 2014, 15:11

Today like any other day I, like tens of thousands of fellow South Africans was late at work (some internship in Jozi). I was not late because I woke up late; I was late because a train had some “technical issues to be fixed”.

I wake up at 4:30 am daily to switch the gyser on, let me also tell you that here at home we are saving electricity, playing our part of being good citizens (not Agang affiliated though).

At 5 am I take a bath then eat and sort out the house before I leave the house at 5:50 am.

It is a 15 minute walk to reach the train station from our house. The train is supposed to be at my station by 6:10 but today it arrived at 6:17. I take two trains to get to Johannesburg CBD.

I arrived at Springs just in time for the 6:45 train, or so I thought! The train made no move and no announcement was made for about 30 minutes. The lady next to me sees my frustration and says I must be patient as things have been worse. Apparently Mondays and Fridays are bad days even to the trains. I share a tired smile. She smiles back and continues to read her book about Jesus (well that’s what on the cover).

Yes black people read! But anyway the train finally departs, I check my watch, if I travel by it to my final destination I am going to be at least 30 minutes late. The protest continues in my head, to distress I take a taxi from the next station. I can’t afford to be late when I’m just an intern.

Taxi is full within minutes, driver gets into an argument with some guy who didn’t want to close the door as he was saying goodbye to his “girlfriend”. We wait some minutes as they argue, finally the guy gives in and walks away. I thought I was short tempered but Johannesburg taxi drivers put me to shame.

The taxi driver eventually decides to take us to our destination. We passed etolls (it was my first time). He paid some cash. I must add that I didn’t get the feeling that we were on world class freeway that required millions for maintenance. The road felt like some road from the Eastern Cape to me.

Arrived at work on time but spent more than my usual on the way there. The whole day I wondered what Metrorail has in store for me come home time.

I arrived at Park station at 04:45 for the 5:00 pm train. I give myself a pat on the back for early arrival, in my 3 weeks of using the train; I’ve learned that you ought to arrive early to avoid missing the train as officials change lanes like some rich child nappies.

The train departed by 5 pm as expected but it got “stuck” just outside of Johannesburg. We spent close to 30 minutes there; I was getting super frustrated even with the traders going up and down shouting out their products. All the time the train is “stuck” I expect an announcement like “We are experiencing blah blah blah and we shall move at this time”. How idiotic of me! I arrived late at Springs for the next train to take me to straight to my station. Fortunately for me I had change so I was able to pay R11 for a taxi. I kept those who weren’t as fortunate to my prayers that night.

Today I spent more than 2 days trip. Today I spent more than 4 hours sitting in an untidy train waiting for a miracle to happen. Today I wish whoever came up with an idea of gautrain would have included ordinary folks like me. Today I wish those huge amounts of rands used for tolled highways could have made a huge difference in the train business. Today I wish someone could do his/her job from the highest office to the ticket issuing one to make sure train commuters get a good treatment they deserve in this democratic state.

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