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Taxi strike forces some commuters to walk to work

Long queues during taxi driver's strike in Johannesburg.
Long queues during taxi driver's strike in Johannesburg.
Image: Antonio Muchave/Sowetan

“Our jobs are on the line.”

This is the cry of many commuters who have been left stranded on Monday morning due to the strike by the taxi industry.

In Alexandra, commuters stood in the cold outside the Pan African mall not far from the taxi rank where taxis had parked.

While some of the commuters tried to hitchhike from the private vehicles, others simply started walking towards their places of work.

Mike Dube was one of those who braved the cold and began to walk. He spoke to the Sowetan while walking along Louis Botha.

“I left home at 4am. I have been walking for over an hour I am still going to walk for about one hour, 30 minutes. I am coming from Buccleuch and I am headed to Parkhurst. What they are striking for is a just cause but on the other hand we are struggling. They have to think for us. Everyone is a victim of Covid-19.

“I spent months not working during the lockdown. I have lost income. Now that we are open at work then there is a strike. I cannot tell my boss that I cannot make it to work because of the strike. I have to report for duty. It is my job on the line,” Dube said.

Another commuter, Joyce Mamabolo stood at the rank hoping to get someone to take her to work. She called her son to come and accompany her with her friend as she had to walk from Alexandra to Bramley.

“I came early hoping that I could [get]something but it is clear that there [is] no transport for us. Now we have to walk. Other people left earlier from here and they are going to town. It is really tough for us. It is really unfair. Most people lost their jobs due to the coronavirus and now we cannot stay at home because jobs are scarce. If you do not report for duty, it could be the end of your employment,” Mamabolo said.

All of Alexandra had no taxis and some of the roads were blocked with burning tyres but there was no one protesting.

Santaco in Gauteng embarked on a strike on Monday in protest of the relief funding announced by transport minister Fikile Mbalula last week. Mbalula announced R1.13bn relief funding last Friday which included metered taxis and e-hailing services. Taxi bosses calculated this figure and it translated to just over R3000 for each vehicle.

Mbalula described the strike as counter-productive and said there was no additional money that the taxi industry would get due to budget constraints.

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