Concerns loom as South African transport strike in third week

08:51, May 25, 2010      

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A South African official on Monday called for vast improvements in the country's public transport system as up to 2 million commuters in the country were being affected by a two-week-old strike by rail workers,

Johan van Vreden, ombudsman of the Motor Industry of South Africa, said in Johannesburg that the mobility of South Africans could be seriously hampered unless there is an improvement in the provision and use of public transport in the country.

He told the South African Press Association (SAPA) the rapid increase in South African motoring costs was making it increasingly difficult for many motorists to make ends meet financially.

"Further increases in road congestion, labor costs, fuel and more general tolling of major roads looming, all point to a need for both the authorities and the motoring public to seriously strive for and utilize an efficient public transport system."

Van Vreden acknowledged that South African authorities need to ensure that efficient and reliable transport and services are provided and the South African motoring public must change its mindset to utilize such a service to its fullest.

"Should this not happen many people may be forced to find employment closer to work, companies could lose experienced and well qualified staff and leisure time activities in our 'outdoor' country could be severely restricted," he told SAPA.

He added that the improvement of roads and transport in Gauteng province, particularly Johannesburg, before next month's FIFA World Cup is an important step towards addressing this problem and it should continue after the games.

Meanwhile South Africa's Metrorail service in major cities was running a reduced service on Monday morning as the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) vowed to forge ahead with national strike action.

Satawu deputy president Robert Mashego said no further wage talks had been scheduled with either the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) or South Africa's rail utility Transnet, where Satawu members were entering a third week of strike action.

But Mashego said some members were returning to work, despite the majority rejecting a 10 percent wage increase from Prasa and an 11 percent offer from Transnet.

"There are some people who are going back to work... they are looking after their interests financially," Mashego told SAPA.

South African economists warned last week that striking workers would lose a significant amount of money since the "no work, no pay" rule applied.

Satawu's fellow union, the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) decided at the end of last week to accept both the Transnet and Prasa offers. Its members were back at work on Monday.

Source: Xinhua


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