COMMUTER bus operators on some Bulawayo routes have increased fares from 50 cents to $1.
Stranded commuters who board kombis along 6th avenue expressed despair at the development.
A ride to suburbs such as Cowdray Park, Emakhandeni, Mpopoma, Mabutweni and Gwabalanda was pegged at $1 yesterday evening as kombi crews cited fuel shortages and escalating prices of commodities as the cause for the hike.
The taxi industry leaders in Bulawayo said they have hit hard times due to escalating operational costs and have since appealed to Bulawayo City Council to hike fares.
The operators said their hopes were pinned on the new dispensation as operational costs had crippled their operations.
Chronicle spoke to Tshova Mubaiwa Transport Corporation, Bulawayo City Transit (BCT) and Bulawayo Public Transport Association representatives who shared the same sentiments on the state of the transport industry in Zimbabwe.
BCT spokesperson Mr Daniel Pondo said they had since written a letter to Bulawayo City council seeking permission to increase fares.
“Things are very hard for us and we acknowledge that things are equally hard for our customers. However we approached council and we hope that we would get a favourable response from them. At the moment we are almost providing a free service to the public,” said Mr Pondo.
Tshova Mubaiwa Marketing and Managing Director Mr Ndaba Mabunda said the association was hoping that Government would subsidise fuel and spares for public transporters to ensure that they stayed afloat.
“We are the oldest transport association in the city and perhaps the country. We have established good relations with our customers and we understand that in as much as we are suffering, they also bear the brunt of the situation caused by the state of the economy. So in our action, we need to take into account that we find a solution that will serve both of us. The situation is tough out there and a number of kombi owners have ceased operations due to the tough environment. Our only hope now is for the Second Republic to help us and regulate our industry,” said Mr Mabunda.
BUPTA Spokesperson Mr Keeper Ndlovu said the transport operators had not changed the bus fare since the introduction of the multiple currency system in 2009.
“In 2009, taxi fare was gazetted as $0,50 or R5. Engine oil was $14 however if you go to any shop you will find it’s now $50. Tyres were going for around $45 each; however one goes for $180 now. The industry is tough but we cannot just wake up and change the fares because our customers are also feeling the heat. We are hoping that in a few weeks time under the new dispensation our fortunes will change. People want to pay for bus fare using EcoCash but it becomes even worse with the new three tier pricing system,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Transport operators hiked taxi fares in Harare with effect from yesterday; however there was backlash from the public on social media. Some members of the public were however pointing out that the move was inevitable as prices of different commodities had gone up across industry, the latest being bread which now costs $1,10.