Com­muters threaten shut­down of Joburg CBD

Jobs lost be­cause Metrobuses don’t ar­rive on time

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - NOKUTHULA ZWANE nokuthula.zwane@inl.co.za

METROBUS com­muters are threat­en­ing to bring Joburg’s cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict to a stand­still if the bus com­pany does not re­spond to their griev­ance by to­mor­row.

This fol­lows a par­tial shut­down of Gandhi Square yes­ter­day morn­ing.

An­gry com­muters halted bus op­er­a­tions to force Metrobus man­age­ment to im­prove their ser­vices. Pas­sen­gers claimed to have been queu­ing in the bit­ter cold for buses that sel­dom ar­rive on time.

Fifty-year-old Zulu Mabaso told The Star that he had been us­ing the buses for more than a year and found the ser­vice de­plorable.

“We wait in the queue for hours for a bus that never ar­rives on time, if it comes at all. And it’s a rip-off, be­cause we bud­get for the bus, only to be forced to use taxis,” he pointed out.

Mabaso, who works in Sand­ton, said he can’t af­ford to get writ­ten warn­ings from his em­ployer at his age.

Ntombi Radebe, 67, said she had been us­ing the bus ser­vice for many years but had never ex­pe­ri­enced such in­com­pe­tence.

“I have been us­ing these buses dat­ing back to apartheid. These buses are run by our own peo­ple, but things have just de­te­ri­o­rated,” she said.

More than 50 com­muters protested, say­ing the buses ar­rive late, which had cost a num­ber of peo­ple their jobs.

They’ve ac­cused Metrobus man­age­ment of “day­light rob­bery” as there are days when the buses don’t even pitch up.

The act­ing manag­ing di­rec­tor of Metrobus, Tshepo Makola, was es­corted by po­lice of­fi­cers when he ad­dressed the an­gry com­muters.

He said he had been re­ceiv­ing emails daily with their griev­ances, but pointed out that their big­gest chal­lenge was the avail­abil­ity of buses.

Said Makola: “We take our com­muters very se­ri­ously, be­cause if we don’t, we will be out of busi­ness.

“The changes in shifts that were im­ple­mented in Fe­bru­ary was to pi­lot the new routes af­ter the city con­ducted an as­sess­ment in 2013. It was one of the turn­around plans that had to be im­ple­mented,” he said.

“Around 60% of our fleet is 17 years old, and that is our big chal­lenge.”

Makola pledged to re­port back on their progress, af­ter his meet­ing with the may­oral com­mit­tee to­day.

Com­muter Nonhlanhla Maringa said: “We heard what Tshepo had to say; we are glad he was able to come and ad­dress us, be­cause that’s what we wanted.”

@Zwane_2li2ls

PIC­TURE: NH­LANHLA PHILLIPS/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

IN­CENSED: Metrobus com­muters protested at Gandhi Square yes­ter­day over de­plorable ser­vices.

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