Wayne Jooste took the gap. As rubbish piles up on the streets with the Pikitup strike moving into its third week, Jooste has turned garbage man. With his bakkie he is collecting bins at R100 a go.
It is not the first time he’s done it. He began collecting rubbish bins during the earlier strike, about three months ago. And it’s a lucrative business.
About 3,000 Pikitup workers have been striking illegally, for over two weeks now.
Refuse has been piling up in many Johannesburg suburbs since the start of the strike sparking some frustrated residents to use private refuse collectors.
At the same time, Pikitup says it’s spending a million rand a day paying an external service provider to help with the collection.
Jacky Mashapu from Pikitup says, “We have hired about 1,500 people to assist, it’s also a challenge you would know that our people who are strike there is about 3,000 of them and to do the work of those people with such a low number is equally a challenge hence we are requesting residents to play their part in managing rubbish from household or wherever they are.”
Pikitup says it’s doing everything it can, but it needs residents to do their bit.
“Whenever they have excess waste and they have means, we have 42 garbage sites across Johannesburg they can dispose it there, free of charge.”
During this time… Wayne has collected around 200 bins in the northwestern suburbs of Johannesburg.
He advertises on the “I love” community Facebook websites and tells his clients when he will be in their area. They then SMS their address to him.
Wayne Jooste says, ““This week I would say I have collected about 10 to 15 a day. I receive about 30 to 40 calls a day and a lot of it, it’s people that I have taken from before and others, it’s new people.”
“It’s crazy. Sometimes I have to turn business away,” he said.
Jooste is not alone. Tom Larney, who usually uses his bakkie to cart rubble, charges R50 a bin and works the Linden, Northcliff and Sophiatown areas. Some of his customers even pay him to pick up other people’s rubbish that has been dumped on the streets.
Both Larney and Jooste have become part of the economy that subsidies notoriously deficient government services, such as healthcare and security.
That citizens have to pay the private sector to provide services that they are also paying the government for worries both business and researchers.
Desne Masie, of Wits University School of Governance, said businesses had been asking for tax relief for providing services that the government is defaulting on.
There have been calls for tax deductions on alarm systems and security cameras. But they have not been successful.
“On the one side, subsiding the government is not a bad thing, if it provides employment and solutions, but it can undermine labour negotiations and service delivery.
“Moreover, many South Africans can’t afford [to pay twice],” she explained.
Alan Mukoki, CEO of the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, warned that if the public sector failed so would the economy.
As the days pass and the rubbish piles up, Pikitup has vowed it won’t be intimidated by striking workers.
Even when the Pikitup strike ends, Jooste believes, he will still have customers who are prepared to pay for good service.