BUS STRIKE: Thousands stranded, taxi services flooded across the country

2018-04-18 13:18
Commuters at the Dobsonville taxi rank say the queue is longer than usual. (Amanda Khoza/News24)

Commuters at the Dobsonville taxi rank say the queue is longer than usual. (Amanda Khoza/News24)

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Thousands of commuters woke up to a crippling nationwide bus strike that kicked off at 05:30 on Wednesday and forced people to stand in long queues for taxis.

At least 50 bus companies are not operating across the country as the strike intensifies.

The usually bustling MyCiTi bus station at Cape Town Civic Centre was quiet and there was a similar scene at the Durban Station in KwaZulu-Natal, which stood desolate.

ALSO READ: #BusStrike: Taxis bracing for busy day as bus drivers go on strike

There were reports that no buses operated in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. There were also long queues in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, and Seshego in Polokwane. In Khayelitsha, Cape Town, commuters were left stranded.

Among those affected were scholars and students. It was reported that University of Johannesburg students, who rely heavily on Mega Bus buses, would need to find other forms of transport.

Children were also stuck in long queues in Nelson Mandela Bay as they tried to make their way to school.

Strike notice issued, after wage negotiations deadlock

The strike, over a wage dispute, put around 80% of the country's passenger buses on lockdown.

Workers demanded a 12% increase across the board, while their employers offered 7%. A strike notice was issued when wage negotiations at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC) reached a deadlock.

"The impact is going to be felt right across the republic," Gary Wilson, secretary general of SARPBC, vowed a day before the strike.

Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande said on Wednesday that all parties involved in the negotiations needed to urgently find a negotiated settlement.

"The only reasonable outcome that government expects from the negotiations, is the immediate resumption of bus operations, whilst labour and employers are finding a permanent solution to the impasse," Nzimande said.

The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) shop steward for Rea Vaya, Phanuel Mbhombi, told News24 the demand of 12% was reasonable. He said workers would be peaceful in their demand for an increase.

"We are not destroying property," he said, speaking to News24 on the ground.

ALSO READ: #BusStrike: 10 things you need to know

"We are waiting for labour and management to go back to the negotiation table. This is a lock-out strike. All companies have locked out the premises. That is why we are outside."

In a statement, Golden Arrow Bus Services said negotiations were still taking place and said it remained "hopeful that an agreement can still be reached".

"Golden Arrow will institute a company-wide lock-out in order to ensure the safety of our passengers and staff for the duration of the strike."

Putco's Satawu shop steward, Bongani Boqo, said bus drivers were committed to their strike.

"The employers are not coming to their senses. They are giving us 7.5% for three years which we found unacceptable. We are going to strike until our demands are met."

Transport system in Nelson Mandela Bay suspended

In Nelson Mandela Bay, the Algoa Bay Bus company suspended its services and the Libongulethu Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) ground to a halt.

Transport mayoral committee member Marlon Daniels said the suspension of the municipality's Libongulethu IPTS services was not part of the national strike action, but rather a safety precaution.

Daniels said the various stakeholders would be meeting later on Wednesday to discuss the way forward, and consider whether the IPTS bus service would resume on Thursday or not.

WATCH: Bus drivers demand 12% wage increase

WATCH: 'It's chaos' - Mitchells Plain commuters frustrated by bus strike


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Read more on:    golden arrow  |  myciti  |  putco  |  durban  |  cape town  |  polokwane  |  johannesburg  |  protest action  |  transport  |  traffic

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