Two MyCiti buses have been set alight during the course of this week, causing many commuters to wonder about their safety when using public transport in Cape Town. The current MyCiti bus strike has been ongoing since Monday, 15 October, and the impact on the city’s already-strained public transport system has been leaving many commuters helpless.
As the Metrorail train fires begin to abate, could the torching of MyCiti buses be the beginning of a trend?
“Two MyCiTi buses have been torched and burnt out since the start of the wildcat strike, and another two damaged in similar attacks. The replacement value of the buses and equipment, as well as repairs, amounts to approximately R10 million – a loss the City can ill-afford,” says Luthando Tyhalibongo, City of Cape Town spokesperson. “The City is extremely concerned about the unprotected strike that has been ongoing since Monday, 15 October 2018, and the impact it is having on the MyCiTi service, the personnel and the thousands of commuters who rely on the MyCiTi buses for reaching their destinations, as well as the impact on our local economy.”
He adds that the safety of passengers, bus drivers and other MyCiti personnel who are not participating in the wildcat strike is of great concern to the City. “We are doing everything within our power to assist the aggrieved parties in resolving the impasse so that the service can resume to normal,” Tyhalibongo says.
After being approached by the City for assistance, the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) National Bargaining Forum has made a senior commissioner available to facilitate the negotiations. The companies that are contracted by the City to operate the MyCiti service include the Vehicle Operating Companies (VOCs), and the company responsible for operating MyCiti stations.
The mediator is currently meeting with the parties involved to come to an impasse.
“The City has been meeting with the VOCs on a daily basis to receive updates about the state of the service and actions being are taken to address the ongoing strike,” Tyhalibongo says.
“We can also confirm that a MyCiTi bus was set alight at the Lindela bus stop in Khayelitsha. According to our information, four attackers were involved. Nobody was injured, but operations along the N2 Express routes between Khayelitsha and the Civic Centre station in the Cape Town central business district [have been] suspended until further notice,” Tyhalibongo says.
These arson cases are currently being investigated by South African Police Services, and plans have been put in place to deploy Metro Police, Law Enforcement officers and Traffic officers to ensure that no further attacks take place.
“In the meantime, the VOCs and the station management contractor with the assistance of the City’s Law Enforcement service, are doing their utmost best in operating the service under very difficult circumstances, and in the midst of ongoing threats and intimidation,” Tyhalibongo adds. “The City cannot afford to lose buses critical to the public transport network. We call on residents who have any information about these attacks or the attackers to please report this to the SAPS,” he urges.
Commuters can also contact the Transport Information Centre by calling 24/7 on 0800 65 64 63 for the latest information regarding the service, following @MyCiTibus on Twitter, or visiting the Facebook page ‘MyCiTi Integrated Rapid Transit System’, as changes to the operating schedule can happen at any time due to the unpredictability of the current situation.