Another MyCiTi bus torched as aggrieved drivers' strike continues

2018-11-22 14:01

One person was arrested after at a MyCiTi bus was torched on Koeberg road in Cape Town, police said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said a case of malicious damage to property was opened.

"A 26-year-old man was arrested, and he is expected to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court once charged," she said.

This is the fourth MyCiTi bus to have been torched and burnt out since the start of a wildcat strike on October 15.

READ: MyCiTi workers continue to strike as buses are burnt

Three buses had already been damaged and the City of Cape Town estimated that the loss with the fourth attack is R18m.

The City has indicated that unionised striking workers had signed an agreement that they would not strike again until 2020. 

Councillor Felicity Purchase, the mayoral committee member for transport said three men boarded the bus at the Crassula stop and poured petrol inside the bus and set it alight.

The driver managed to run away unharmed.

"There is some consolation in the fact that one of three suspects involved in the attack on the MyCiTi bus in Milnerton last night was arrested," she said in a statement. 

Tension between drivers

The workers are demanding to be employed directly by the City of Cape Town, instead of working for vehicle operating companies (VOCs) contracted to manage the MyCiTi bus service.

Giving an example of their grievances, one of the drivers' representatives, Johannes Gordon, said some security guards were being asked to also be the "ambassadors" – these are the queue marshals who manage the flow of people on and off the buses.

He said ambassadors earn more, but the security guards' salaries were not being increased in line with their added responsibilities.

He also said the drivers who work on the new N2 route from Khayelitsha earn more than those on other routes and this was causing tension between drivers.

Driver Luzuko Memani said they also do not have proper resting places. They are not allowed to eat on buses or at stations, so they have to find a spot on a pavement to eat, or even rest in the bathrooms, which they find degrading and unsafe.

A News24 reporter has observed during a commute from Milnerton that drivers have been experiencing problems lining the buses up with the platforms and have battled with the door opening systems.

bus
Packed MyCiTi bus from Table View to the CBD. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Picket continuing

Some passengers have also been hit by the doors as they close suddenly without the usual verbal all-clear by the marshals.

Gordon said that in addition to the 80 drivers fired by VOC Kidrogen, some drivers working for other companies had also been fired during the strike.

Memani denied that their strike was organised by the EFF as alleged by Brett Herron, the former mayoral committee member for transport.

Five people were arrested on Wednesday after a clash between officials, police and striking drivers at the Cape Town Civic Centre. They were eventually released.

An interdict notice has been stuck to the windows of many of the MyCiTi platforms.

interdict notice
MyCiTi interdict against striking workers. (Jenni Evans, News24) 

The interdict is against workers aligned to three unions.

They are interdicted from intimidating MyCiTi staff, damaging stations or disrupting services, and may not go within 100m of the stations or depots unless reporting for work.

Meanwhile, drivers were keeping up their picket outside the Civic Centre on Thursday, hoping that the new Mayor Dan Plato would consider their demand to be insourced.

"If only on the first day somebody came out to take our memorandum we would be back to work already," said Gordon.

Read more on:    myciti  |  cape town  |  public transport  |  protest
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