CONTINUING bus strikes are leaving Wits students queuing for hours for transport and arriveing late to classes.
Bus drivers have been striking since last week Friday. Striking Putco and Rea Vaya bus drivers were joined on Wednesday by long-distance luxury liners.
Witsies who normally use the buses were forced to use alternative transport methods this week to get to campus and back home while others were stuck in unusually long queues to catch their taxi ride home.
Palesa Motaung, 2nd year BA Media Studies and Politics, said it was an inconvenience as she came late for her morning classes.
Motaung waited an hour for a taxi and it took two hours for her to get to campus. “The lines were super-super long. I totally hated it,” she said.
“There aren’t enough taxis obviously.”[pullquote align=”right”]“And the bus is cheaper.” [/pullquote]
Motaung said the taxi drivers were trying to overload the taxis to help people get to work and school and to make more money. But the people protested as they waited long too long in the queue and did not want to sit four people in a row and uncomfortably.
Khabonina Masango, 2nd year BA Politics, who also usually takes the Rea Vaya buses, had to take taxis this week. Masango said if the strike persisted she would be “sad and irritated”. She likes the Rea Vaya buses as they are very convenient, safe and clean.“And the bus is cheaper,” Masango added.
The bus strikes are currently causing taxis to carry more passengers. Bree taxi rank manager Vusi Sithole said the influx of passengers is hectic because they have to get additional vehicles from other taxi rank branches to accommodate everyone.
Sithole said they realise the strike is causing problems for the commuters. “We are doing our best to help the commuters.”
But the taxi drivers are not happy with the overload of work. Taxi driver Herbert Thuko said “the work is taking its toll” on the drivers.
“We are very frustrated because the taxi bosses expect more money from us because there are more commuters,” said Thuko.“It is expected of us to make more trips to make more money.”
Finance24 reported on Tuesday that the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) is demanding a wage increase of 18% with additional allowances for housing, night shift and long-distance journeys. The Commuter Bus Employers Organisation is offering a 6.5% wage increase.
Employers and the unions met on Wednesday at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to try and resolve the strike. But Eye Witness News reported that Satawu had said the talks had deadlocked.