MyCiTi buses to be escorted by police to prevent further arson attacks

Workers are demanding better pay and working conditions

MyCiTi buses to be escorted by police to prevent further arson attacks

8 November 2018

MyCiTi buses in Cape Town will be escorted by the City of Cape Town's metro police and other city law enforcement officers to prevent further attacks after two buses were set alight this week, the City said.

It is still unclear who is behind the attack, but the City has arranged for negotiations with striking bus drivers who have downed tools for weeks.

City of Cape Town spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said on Wednesday that these services would be deployed by the City's safety and security directorate as the City can't afford to lose any more buses.

On Tuesday morning, a bus was set alight at the Omuramba station in Milnerton. At the time, the City's mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, told News24 that it was not clear who was behind the attacks. But he said there was a pattern of attacks on isolated buses.

Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said the incident took place at around 06:00, and the driver managed to escape unharmed. There were no passengers on the bus. Africa said the police were investigating the cause of the fire, as well as who was behind it.

On Wednesday morning, another MyCiTi bus was torched at the Lindela bus stop in Khayelitsha.

Workers demanding better pay

"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 were suspended until further notice," said Tyhalibongo.

A MyCiTi bus was stoned in Khayelitsha on October 23.

According to Tyhalibongo, the replacement value of the buses, equipment and repairs amounts to approximately R10m.

MyCiTi bus drivers embarked on a unprotected strike on October 14 that has been marked by reports of intimidation and harassment. Several routes were diverted. The workers are demanding better pay and working conditions, as well as an end to the use of labour brokers.

The City of Cape Town has obtained an urgent interdict to stop striking drivers from intimidating, harassing or assaulting MyCiTi passengers or staff. Drivers were also interdicted from damaging MyCiTi stations or buses, and gathering less than 100m from MyCiTi stations or buses.

"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.

Help from bargaining council

"The safety of our passengers, and the safety of the bus drivers and other MyCiTi personnel who are not participating in the wildcat strike is of paramount 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 said.

The City has approached the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council's national bargaining forum for assistance, and a senior commissioner will facilitate the negotiations between the City and aggrieved employees, he said.

This includes the vehicle operating companies (VOCs), and the company that is managing operations at the MyCiTi stations, he added.

"The City has been meeting with the VOCs on a daily basis to receive updates about the state of the service, and the actions taken to address the ongoing strike.

"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."

Commuters were advised to contact the City and the police to report any incidents, and to visit the MyCiTi social media pages, or contact the transport information centre 24/7 on 0800 65 64 63 for updates on bus schedules.