Taxi ranks were packed as bus drivers initiated their strike. Picture: Bheki Radebe
Cape Town – People who were hoping to go home for the Easter weekend by bus could be in for a rough ride.

By Wednesday night, there was no end in sight for the nationwide bus strike involving 18 bus companies, after negotiations remained deadlocked.

Thousands of South Africans usually use buses to attend religious events across the country and to visit loved ones.

On Wednesday, on the first day of the strike, there was chaos and endless queues at taxi ranks and train stations as about 300 000 Cape bus commuters tried to get to work.

In Mitchells Plain, at the Town Centre taxi rank, a scuffle broke out as passengers vied for seats. The situation was quickly resolved.

Train stations were also packed as people waited for up to two hours for already full trains to arrive.

By late Wednesday night, Meko Magida, of Golden Arrow Bus Services told the Daily Voice negotiations between the bus company and the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (Sarpbac) were still underway.

Unions have indicated the strike would not stop until their demands were met.

“Negotiations are still continuing and we are still engaging with both parties,” says Meko.

“We are hoping by midnight or by (this) morning to get an outcome."

More than 71 000 MyCiTi commuters were also forced to find alternative transport to work after the service was suspended due to safety concerns.

MyCiTi confirmed services would continue to be suspended until the strike is over.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) wants a 12 percent salary increase but employers are offering 7.5 percent, while the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) is demanding a 15 percent wage hike.

Workers are also demanding better working conditions and transformation.

And they want full pay for the second driver on long distance routes.

Early on Wednesday, thousands of commuters flocked to taxi ranks and train stations to get to work.

Roads were also gridlocked as commuters opted to drive to work.

And many people were unaware that they could use their bus tickets on the trains, with many going back home when they thought they would have to buy tickets.

However, Metrorail says the bus clipcards could only be used until their expiry dates – 25 April for weeklies and 17 May for monthlies.

Golden Arrow said people who bought tickets before Tuesday will be given an extension when services resume.

MyCiTi cards will be extended for the time equal to the duration of the strike.