Commuters have to dig deep

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iol news 04 may SA cw bus strike sidebar pic Taliep Abrahams _NNB2401 INLSA Taliep Abrahams would normally spend R400pm on transport (bus) to get to and from work. Now he has to spend more than R1000.00 leaving him with little to no cash to spare. Picture: Neil Baynes

Cape Town - Taliep Abrahams, one of hundreds of thousands of commuters left out in the cold by the national bus strike, is digging into his savings to cover his extra transport costs as he tries to hold on to his job as a casual worker at a Kenilworth clothing store.

The savings were to allow him to finish an IT course, but he’s been left with no other choice.

Before the strike, Abrahams spent R410 on a monthly bus ticket. In the past two weeks he’s spent more than R1 000 on transport.

“I’m a casual worker and don’t earn a lot as it is. Since the bus strike started I’ve been forced to use the money I’ve been saving to pay for the extra travel costs. If the strike continues I’ll keep on losing money until I have nothing left,” the despondent man said.

He often works late shifts, and says he finds himself waiting for hours for transport. He was also afraid of thieves who targeted people who were stranded at bus and taxi stops.

“They know people are stranded. A few of the people who work close to me have been robbed. Sometimes I see suspicious people watching the taxi drop-off but they won’t do anything as long as there are a lot of people. But the later it gets the less people there are.”

Abrahams plans to join a lift club, which will cost more than the taxis but will guarantee his safety.

“It’s going to cost me more money but I won’t have to risk waiting at a bus or taxi stop alone. I’ll try to pick up more shifts at work and even though I’ll barely make any money, every bit counts,” he said.

While he understood the bus drivers wanted more money, and that bus companies were trying to keep costs down, Abrahams said commuters were really struggling.

“Everyone is losing out, so it doesn’t make sense for it to keep going. But until it’s over we’ll all just keep losing.”

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