Taxis pass through long queues of commuters at Bree Taxis Rank during the bus strike. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/Africa News Agency (ANA)

The national bus strike has not only made life difficult for commuters, including school children, it has also adversely affected traders at Joburg’s Park Station - a thriving business hub that caters to travellers.
Hoosein Moolla, whose Station Vibration store specialises in HiFi, sound and home entertainment equipment, says in the more than 30 years that he has been operating, his business has never been affected so badly as it has been by the current strike.

“We find that now in April we couldn’t meet our targets because of the strike. It was really bad; it’s the worst April we ever had in the business,” said Moolla, whose clientele consists mainly of bus travellers from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia.

“People come to Joburg to do buying, not for holidays. They come here to buy goods and take them back to sell. So they put a deposit or buy in cash and they will collect their goods once they leave Joburg.

“They don’t want to walk with large sums of money in town as they fear being robbed. Without these passengers we have no economy. I wish it would end now because we are very dependent on buses. It’s a big drawback to business, it’s not good for business,” he said

Another business affected by the month-long strike is that of Mduduzi Ncube, who owns African Dula Travel Agency, which specialises in long-distance bus bookings and domestic and international flight reservations.

Ncube said people were now opting for flights even though some couldn’t afford the fares. “But for some clients, it’s been really bad because they’ve had to cancel, and trying to get refunds and reschedules is a nightmare.

“Overall, its bad for business, there’s a high loss of income and a lot of inconveniences to the travellers. I think the worst is that no one actually knows when it will end therefore you can’t really make proper plans going forward,” said a devastated Ncube.

Vusi Matine from Soweto sells fruits and vegetables at the station. His stall is located next to the bus waiting area which he said is a good spot for his business. But business is down.

“Since I started this business in 1989 I have never been affected like this. I rely on bus commuters as there are buses leaving in the mornings and evenings and that is when I make a lot of money, but now as you can see it’s quiet and I have even reduced my stock. I wish this strike would end as soon as possible,” said Matine.

Innocent Magasela survives by using a trolley to transport goods for the bus travellers, but now, he said, he is no longer making money. “I used to make R500 to R700 a day but these days I can leave without even making a lousy R100. This is not good, this strike must end now,” he said.

A manager at Alpha butchery, Fernando Sousa said the bus strike was affecting his employees because they were coming late to work. “As you can see it’s 11:20 am but half my stuff has not yet arrived. This is because of the bus strike, my employees use buses to come to work but now they are struggling to get here on time,” said Sousa

The Sunday Independent