Some of the bus drivers who are employed by the vehicle operating companies operating the MyCiTi bus routes embarked on an illegal strike on Monday at the Civic Centre. Photo: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Commuters will most likely have to make alternative transport arrangements on Tuesday following disruptions to the MyCiTi bus service due to a strike by drivers on Monday.

The City’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, said at midday “it is unclear for how long the illegal strike will continue, and when the MyCiTi service will be able to resume normal operations".

However, striking MyCiTi bus drivers have vowed to extend their strike into Tuesday if their grievances are not addressed by the City of Cape Town, News24 reported.

"We are here because we are subjected to unfair labour practices in this structure of the MyCiTi project," said Patrick Mabindisa, a bus driver and one of the leaders of the protest.

"The City is not checking under what conditions we are working. The pressure is enormous."

Some of the bus drivers who are employed by the vehicle operating companies (VOCs) operating the MyCiTi bus routes embarked on an illegal strike.

“As a result, the MyCiTi service has been severely disrupted with few routes operating during the morning peak-hour period. Neither the VOCs nor the City of Cape Town was informed of the imminent strike and the reasons for the illegal stay-away,” said Herron.

Hertzog Boulevard was closed to incoming traffic on Monday morning after about 200 striking drivers gathered on the red bus lane outside the Civic Centre station, intimidating those bus drivers who were fulfilling their duties. 

Traffic and MyCiTi buses operating on the N2 Express routes from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha were diverted along other routes.

“I am concerned about the illegal strike and the impact it has on commuters who are already taking strain due to the ailing rail service. 

"I was also alerted to incidents where some strikers intimidated their colleagues who are not participating in their illegal strike. This is unacceptable. I urge the VOCs and their employees to meet as soon as possible,” said Herron, who has yet to meet the disenchanted MyCiTi employees.

“These engagements must be facilitated through the appropriate channels so that the impasse can be resolved. We need the MyCiTi service to resume operations as soon as possible and without any disruptions.”

But Mabindisa told News24 efforts to use the proper channels have been exhausted. MyCiTi drivers had a meeting with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille on April 7, but nothing came of it.

"We need Brett Herron to come down here and he must answer to these problems today. He must take this very seriously," Mabindisa said.

If their concerns are not addressed by the City of Cape Town, he said, the workers would "have to escalate this illegal strike" and encouraged taxi industry workers to join them.

The peaceful protest was met by a strong police contingent in the early afternoon. At least 10 stun grenades were detonated just after 1pm at the circle near Adderley Street and Hans Strijdom Avenue.

"We were just singing. We did not do anything. This is a peaceful protest and the police threw tear gas at us," said one of the protesters.

Protesters claimed poor working conditions were a major reason for the strike action. "We are subjected to unsafe buses," Mabindisa said. 

The protesters said they hoped that their pleas for safer working conditions, a less stressful work environment and better pay were heard by the authorities.