Public order police were called in on Wednesday afternoon as a protest by striking bus drivers in Cape Town threatened to turn ugly.
About 80 drivers were infuriated that an Intercape bus had been allowed to leave the long-distance terminus at Cape Town station‚ and prevented another bus from leaving.
The drivers refused to disperse without an undertaking that no more buses would leave. Union leaders pleaded for “peace” from their members.
Meanwhile‚ passengers demanded answers and refunds from bus companies City to City‚ Translux and Greyhound.
Anxiety‚ delays and simmering anger as nationwide bus strike bites
Themba Jack‚ due to travel to Port Elizabeth on Wednesday afternoon‚ did not know if he would get home in time to prepare for an important church event. He was told to wait for two hours before he could collect a refund. He booked a City to City ticket on April 6. “I am in a hurry. I need an alternative [and] my money is with them‚” he said.
Refunds were a sore point for many. Nokulunga Bokvel‚ who booked a City to City bus from Cape Town to Queenstown in the Eastern Cape‚ had to borrow R170 to make alternative travel arrangements. “I booked a return ticket but they said they can only refund me for one‚ for now and we will have to see later. I had to ask someone from work [for the extra R170]‚” said Bokvel.
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Unions met employers on Wednesday afternoon in a bid to reach an agreement that could put an end to the strike.
South African Transport Workers’ Union spokesman Zanele Sabela said as things stood‚ Easter weekend travel was likely to be affected by the strike. The union‚ with several others‚ is demanding a 12% wage increase.
The City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport‚ Brett Herron‚ said the MyCiTi service had been suspended until further notice.
Unions‚ bus operators meet to end bus driver strike
“Commuters with a monthly pass should please note that we will extend the monthly packages for the time equal to the duration of the national bus drivers’ strike‚” he said.
“We have approached Metrorail to assist commuters during this time and I want to thank their management for adjusting Metrorail’s services to absorb the additional passenger volumes. Metrorail has extended their operating hours and some trains are terminating sooner at key stations to accommodate more passengers.
Striking bus drivers target Easter weekend
“Given that these commuters will be displaced to other road-based transport such as minibus-taxis or private vehicles‚ I once again call on private businesses in Cape Town to consider implementing flexible working hours or remote working arrangements for employees where possible and practical. Residents are also requested to please explore alternatives such as car-pooling.”
PHOTO: Police negotiate with striking drivers at Cape Town’s long-distance bus terminus on Wednesday.
Image by: Justin Deffenbacher