COMMUTERS have been hit in the pocket by the month-long national bus strike.
Jennifer Marman is a bus user whose travel costs have soared because taxis are far more expensive than the buses she used before the strike.
“Since the bus strike started, I have spent about R2000 on taxis. This has affected my budget because I was spending R650 (a month) on a bus.
“Sometimes I am forced to use my children’s money for transport, which is sad because they had to be absent at school. And I am also not buying enough groceries because I have to save money for transport to go to work,” she said.
Marman, who travels from Tshepi- song to Randburg where she works, said she had to wait for hours at the taxi rank because since the strike queues had become longer and there were not enough taxis to ferry everyone at peak hour.
“I am always late because of the long queues at the rank. This is frustrating because I wake up earlier than I used to when I was using the bus, but I am still arriving late at work. I can’t cope anymore. This strike is killing me because I already have debts and I am out of budget.
“I am disappointed at Putco for this strike. They should think about us (commuters),” said Marman.
The situation was dire for Tsholofelo Mosiane who commutes from Soweto to Randburg.
Mosiane said she had spent over R1500 since the beginning of the strike.
“This is sad because I would have spend R650 on a bus. It seems we are now working for transport. But there is nothing we can do because we need to go to work,” she said.
Mosiane said she paid for six trips a day, from Soweto to Joburg and to Randburg where she works and then back again.
“I also have to consider groceries and food for my child. Life has been hard since the beginning of the strike. I feel like quitting my job.”
Lerato Tshabalala who commutes with Mangethe bus service from Katlehong to Germiston, confirmed that taxis were more expensive than buses.
“I don’t have food as we speak. Taxis costs more than buses. I have spent about R800 now and I would have spent only R400 with a bus. I am praying for this strike to end. My life has changed since this strike,” he said.
Also affected by the bus strike is 14-year-old Thandeka Tshabalala from Braamfontein, who is in Grade 9 at John Orr Technical School.
Tshabalala said it was dangerous for her and other pupils to walk to school and the long distance was tiring.
“It is dangerous to walk to school as we pass at a bridge where there are homeless vagrants who smoke nyaope. We are scared of them. We have no choice but to walk in groups.
“After school the walk back is almost an hour. We want this strike to end because we arrive late at school.
"Now we have to leave home as early as 5.30am instead of the normal time at 7am. At school we are being punished for arriving late.
“Some learners arrive as late as 10am because they have to wait for taxis.
“Some kids are even hiking for lifts to get to school, which is dangerous,” said Tshabalala.
Jillian Windvoel, of Eldorado Park, who is a receptionist at a surgery in Joburg, complained about the long queues at the taxi rank.
“It has been terrible since the start of this bus strike. When I am using a bus it drops me next to my workplace. But now I have to walk a long distance from Bree Street to here and it’s not safe. People have been robbed of their handbags and cellphones.
“I am now always late for work. This strike should end immediately,” said Windvoel.
The unions decided on Friday that the bus strike would continue.
The bone of contention is that workers are demanding that the increases be backdated to April 1.
The Sunday Independent