Eugene Rodolo has been a driver for City Sightseeing in Johannesburg for the past seven years, and during that time has learnt a lot about the rest of the world, while never leaving his home town.
Before taking the wheel at City Sightseeing, Eugene hadn’t visited most of Johannesburg’s attractions. “I just never used to go there; the zoo or the parks, I didn’t know much about them,” he says. “But now, I bring people here every day and I’ve learnt so much about these places. Now I enjoy coming to see the attractions.”
He says the highlight of his job is meeting people from around the world and learning about their perceptions of South Africa. “There are people who ask where all the animals are. I tell them they are at the zoo! I’ve even had people ask how we have electricity.”
While teaching people about Johannesburg, Eugene says he has learnt a lot about the rest of the world. “We have people from India, Germany, England… They all teach me things about their countries.”
Tourists on the City Sightseeing bus always leave with a better understanding of South Africa, as the route winds its way through historic Johannesburg, with an audio track providing information on the city’s history, culture and attractions.
The buses have had to change the way they operate due to COVID, and staff have all been trained on health and safety protocols, says Eugene. “It was very scary to be away from work for so long and not know when I was going to be able to drive again. They called us to come back and we all went for training on the new procedures. I am happy to be here again!”
Changes in the City Sightseeing operations include the temporary removal of the ‘hop-on hop-off’ option, which allowed tourists to get off the bus at any of the attractions on its route and catch the next bus that passed.
However, the scenic tour of Johannesburg does make a brief stop at Gold Reef City casino, where travellers can stock up on refreshments and stretch their legs. Eugene knows how important this can be, especially when the bus gets stuck in Johannesburg gridlock. “Sometimes we are in traffic for a long time. People always ask how I manage to drive this big bus around these small streets when there is a lot of traffic. There are no scratches or marks from other cars on my bus,” he says proudly.