Once in a taxi during the bus strikes

"It's easy, you just walk up to Main Road and jump into a white taxi bus. It's R8 and takes you directly to the station and you walk home". This was the start of my decision to make my way home in a different way, aware of the bus strikes and knowing full well that my journey was hardly a tough one.  

The day before that a woman, who works at the canteen, was telling me that because of the strikes it currently takes her 4 or 5 hours to get to her home in Ottery. I'd been working on-line in the canteen waiting for my lift from a friend.  We were leaving at 5pm and were lucky because our journey went against the traffic.  

En-route home we sighed a breath of relief when we curved around the bend, looking at the bumper to bumper traffic pointing towards the Southern Suburbs. I thought of the lady at the canteen and her jovial personality, despite the journey ahead of her, she was singing the slogan "I want to be a Simba Chippeeeeeee". The next day I decided to get home in a taxi bus and on foot.

After work I left the campus and started to make my way.  Realising that I did not know exactly where to hail a taxi from I asked two ladies, who were cleaning the street, for direction.  They pointed me the in right way and said that it was a little longer but was the safer option despite it being broad daylight.  It was quite a long walk and as I made my way along Lower Main Road Observatory I realised I had always been in my car and had never noticed the petrol station I was walking past.  

I made my way up Station Road towards Main Road. The man who takes the money in the taxi spotted me as a customer and they waited for me.  I jumped in and we waited for the taxi bus to fill up with people.  Then we headed towards the city.  Driver pulling over here and there to collect and drop people off.

A woman with an infant and two small children got into the bus and squeezed in next to me. She looked infuriated. A conversation started up and it turned out that she had received an outrageous bill from the Cape Town City Council saying her electricity bill was in the region of R7 000 for that month.  She had spent mornings that week trying to prove that she had paid up to date via debit order but nobody was responding to her. I told her the same thing had happened to my mother in Johannesburg.  As we chatted we drove under the bridges on Strand Street and I saw that there are black stains on the walls from the smoke of fires made by the people sleeping there.  It is May now and the nights are starting to get cold.  

We drove on along Strand Street toward the station and on the right there was an astronomically long queue of people standing waiting for taxis to head out of the city. Not a taxi in sight heading in that direction. Bus drivers are still on a weeks long strike.  Wages are not increasing despite VAT increase, prices of food rising and services not functioning.  

Taxi stopped at Adderly Street station and people poured out. I thanked the driver and asked him if it was mad at the moment having to do so many runs in and out of town. He responded to say it wasn't that much worse. The lady with the baby smiled at me and we went our respective ways.

  © Monique Pelser 2018


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