Commuters walk away on finding the entrances to the Pretoria Station locked owing to the ongoing strike by Gautrain workers.
GAUTRAIN operator Bombela has a “contingency plan” for Pretoria as the strike by workers - which has crippled the rapid rail system - entered its fourth day.

While a bus service operated between Hatfield and Pretoria, Hatfield Station remained closed. Parking was accessible to commuters.

The bus and train services are available during peak periods, 5.45am to 9am and 4pm until 7pm. Doors to stations will remain closed before and after the peak period.

Since the strike started on Monday, Gautrain operated only during the peak periods in other sections.

Commuters who went to the stations turned back as the entrances were locked.

Until such time an agreement was reached between Bombela and its employees, the contingency plan for peak-hour train and bus operations in certain areas will remain in effect.

A commuter who wished to remain anonymous said: “I have to get to work and then I get here to find locked doors. I came here today because I heard that the trains were working but I’m told that they only operate during peak hours.”

She told the Pretoria News that having to catch a taxi to Sandton meant she had to go to all the way to Marabastad, which took time that she did not have.

“Also, taxis only take off once they are full, and seeing that it is after 10am, there is no way a taxi will get full any time soon.”

However, the strike has not only affected commuters. Businesses near the stations also said they were hit hard.

Boikanyo Semelane, owner of Cafe 79 situated near the Pretoria Station, said his business had taken a knock this week.

He said his customers were mainly Gautrain commuters.

“Business has been affected badly since the strike. I have not opened the shop since Monday.

"If trains operate only during peak hours then business will also operate during those times.

"For instance, I opened at about 7am today, but it was quiet after that,” he said.

A deadlock in wage negotiations between Bombela and employees affiliated to the United National Transport Union sparked the strike.

Workers are demanding a 10% basic salary increase plus various allowance increases, which equated to a 19.5% increase.

Bombela has offered 8.6% across the board, saying in the current economic climate, this was a generous offer.

The company noted that to increase its 8.6% offer any further was neither responsible nor sustainable, and called on the union to reconsider the offer, which remained on the table.

Meanwhile, Gautrain announced the train service would not operate this weekend as daytime maintenance works were required. "In light of the current reduced service due to the strike, we have decided to bring these works forward. A substitute bus service will be available..."