Commuters commandeer City to City bus
Johannesburg - Taxi drivers protesting against Autopax, the bus service replacing Putco in certain areas, continued in Pretoria on Thursday morning, leaving passengers stranded.
In Vosloorus, passengers who had been waiting 90 minutes for a bus flagged down a City to City bus - part of the Autopax fleet.
The driver told the commuters he couldn’t transport them as he was en route to another location.
But the commuters demanded he keep to the agreement his company had made - that the routes, times and fares would remain unchanged when Autopax took over - and transport them.
Although he argued that he was unfamiliar with the route, passengers said they’d advise him.
Outnumbered, he agreed.
As the commuters shouted out their locations to him, he tried to collect their fares.
But the chaos meant he undercharged passengers.
Although many passengers appreciated the driver’s patience, they were unsatisfied with what they saw as a breach in Autopax’s promise and grew increasingly panicked as it got later.
said: “I wake up very early to be on time for work.”
So did Nonhlanhla Sibiya.
She said the new bus company had not sent any buses to Vosloorus on Wednesday, forcing commuters to take taxis which were more expensive than buses.
“And I was late for work because I had to take two taxis,” she said.
The bus driver, who did not want to be named, told The Star that he formerly worked as a Putco bus driver transporting passengers in Soweto, but that he now worked for Autopax. His route is the Spruitview one.
He had decided to transport Vosloorus passengers because he understood their plight.
“These people are poor and they need to get to work. The bus company should have informed the passengers of the routes ahead of time,” he said.
The driver added that training should have been provided to the drivers beforehand, with routes made clear.
In Mamelodi, chaos continued on Thursday morning with roads being blocked by rubble and stones and some buses damaged as taxi operators continued to oppose the new bus system.
This despite Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi, Mamelodi Taxi Association (Mata), and Mamelodi Long Distance Taxi Association (Malta) representatives having talks to end the protest on Wednesday.
Mata and Malta claimed they had reached an agreement with the city to fill the void left by the departure of Putco buses.
But City of Tshwane spokesman Selby Bokaba told The Star’s sister paper the Pretoria News that theirs was not an agreement, but a proposal that had been submitted by both associations.
“They formed a company and submitted a proposal. But the province had already acquired the services of Autopax in the form of a three-month contract,” he said.
Autopax could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday morning.
* Additional reporting by Kutlwano Olifant