The Great Trek home

Home is where the heart is, especially when you are too lazy to cook and your studies take up a chunk of your time.

Commuting to campus using taxis during my undergraduate years put a strain on my marks.

Moving closer to campus was the only solution because the construction of the Gautrain was still ongoing at the time

I had a “traumatic” experience living in student accommodation for the first time during my honours year.

My idea of communal living took a turn for the worse when cleaners went on strike or failed to clean the communal areas for that day or the loud music after midnight woke me up while I was sleeping.

For me, the Gautrain was life—changing.

I now commute daily on the Gautrain which makes travelling between Pretoria and Johannesburg much quicker and more convenient than taking a taxi. Since the route between the capital city and Rosebank was opened, I yearned to return to living in the comfort of my own home.

So, I have chosen to live at home this year and commute on the Gautrain which costs me about R50 a trip, 35 minutes on travelling and the convenience compared to taking a taxi.

But yet another illegal work stoppage by Gautrain bus drivers threatens this happy arrangement.

Each strike cripples the Gautrain service resulting in interruptions and inconvenience. Gautrain management has fired another group of 300 drivers.

According to media reports, bus drivers say their complaints of 11-hour shifts and a lack of transport to and from work had been ignored by their employers.

The bus drivers claim they work long hours without a toilet or lunch break.

Since the bus drivers went on strike, I am forced to wake up much earlier just to arrive on campus on time for my lectures. I live in an area where there are hardly any taxis.

I walk for about 45 minutes to the station, am on the train for 20 minutes and then have to pray for a direct taxi to Braamfontein from Rosebank on Jan Smuts Avenue.

A part of me does sympathise with these drivers who are probably breadwinners in their own homes. These men could also be heads of families.

But, did the drivers fail to read the fine print before inking their signatures on their contracts? Were they not told of their working hours, and the rules and regulations of the company before accepting the offer?

Or was there so much excitement at the prospect of working on the Gautrain that they failed to listen to the possible irregularities from management?

I don’t know, call it whatever you want, I might have lost touch with understanding the “working-class” lifestyle or my ramblings may just be symptoms of middle-class problems.

I could also just be bitter because of the disruption to my daily routine of using the Gautrain and the buses.

However, these bus drivers might possibly need to be treated fairly by management. I am still thinking about this while standing in the snaking queue at Noord taxi rank en route home.