Home News S. Africa high-speed rail fires striking feeder-bus drivers

S. Africa high-speed rail fires striking feeder-bus drivers

Published on 06/02/2012

The company that operates South Africa's high-speed rail line said Monday it had fired some 300 drivers for striking illegally, a stayaway that has stranded commuters who use its feeder-bus system.

“The disciplinary process was completed on Friday night and those drivers that participated have already started receiving letters of dismissal,” said Errol Braithwaite, spokesman for operator Bombela.

The $3.8-billion (2.9-billion-euro) Gautrain links capital city Pretoria with economic hub Johannesburg and the region’s main airport, and travels at 160 kilometres (100 miles) per hour — the first high-speed train in Africa.

The strike has stranded commuters who use the feeder-bus system, run by Bombela subcontractor MegaExpress, to get between home and the train.

Braithwaite said the 300-odd striking workers were “more or less the total of bus drivers” on the feeder system.

“It has gone too far now, and we had to draw a line. We are going to stop it and start again,” he told AFP.

The drivers, who resigned from their union because they were unhappy with the contract it had negotiated on their behalf, went on strike on February 1 demanding the company provide them transport to and from work.

The Gautrain launched the Johannesburg-airport link in June 2010, just in time for the football World Cup, and added the 56-kilometre (35-mile) Johannesburg-Pretoria route in August last year.

A final leg to downtown Johannesburg has been repeatedly delayed by water seeping into the final stretch of tunnel.