So last week I posted some pics of the shack we are going to be staying in. Some of you want to know what our rental is going to be: well here goes. A room in a shack on the non electricity side of Mamelodi (the side we are going to be staying), goes for the grand total of R100 (about $12) per month. If we wanted a room in the side with electricity, it would cost us R250 per month. Compare this to taxi fares and you start getting the picture that in township living transport and food are by far the biggest expense items. To get to where we live (10kms away, direct taxi route, route taken by our maid and lots of other workers in the area) from Mamelodi costs R14 one way. Double that, multiplied by 5 days a week and 4 weeks a month and you get R560 per month on taxi fares. So taxi fares, for my maid for example, are 5-6 times what she pays for rent. I asked her if there isn’t a bus that comes this way and works out cheaper – yes she said, but the bus route is so convoluted and winds its way around various suburbs so much that what takes 15 minutes by taxi takes 2 1/2 half hours by bus (meaning she would have to leave at 5am to get to work 10kms away by 7:30am). That is insane and a major failing on government’s behalf. The route is a major one, direct and extremely well serviced by taxis.
The other cheaper alternative would of course be riding a bike but this is really placing your life at risk. The road has no shoulder, the dirt on the side is impassible for all but the really daring and to top it all, taxis do not like people cycling (as it takes their business away) so they have no regard for cyclists and the taxi cartels take an active part in discouraging government from building cycle routes (at least this is what happened in Johannesburg between Diepsloot and Fourways and most likely is the case here too). Anyway enough ranting. Soon we will be adding to the taxis business by frequenting these routes ourselves. We will give the bus a try once too but I cannot imagine it being too much fun in the heart of winter!