The State-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) has announced a 100% fare increase that has been implemented with immediate effect.
The recently announced average ZUPCO commuter fare of RTGS 48.00 is more than US$0.50 when converted at the official exchange rate.
The fare increase comes at a time when the State has ignored requests by civil servants for a meaningful salary increase. Most civil servants depend on the ZUPCO transport system to go to work.
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The ZUPCO fare increase will erode their already meagre earnings. Additionally, private commuter operators have been banned ostensibly under the guise of the lockdown regulations.
This has led to a chronic transport crisis that has seen thousands of commuters stranded for transport in the morning and evening as they travel to and from their workplaces as ZUPCO operates a monopoly.
Many hours are wasted in bus queues owing to the inefficiency of the system. The ban of private commuter operators has also given rise pirate operators to try and meet the public demand for transport but the pirate operators (though still inadequate) are charging desperate commuters inordinately high fares, further compounding the crisis.
With government having indicated that schools are opening at the end of September, it is unreasonable for the Minister to expose school children to the existing public transport system as there is a high likelihood of abuse, an inability to observe proper social distancing and children missing lessons due to the unavailability and inefficiency of the ZUPCO transport system.
The MDC Alliance demands that in line with lockdown measures that are being relaxed across sectors, the transport sector be opened and registered commuter operators are allowed to operate, albeit observing WHO Regulations to safeguard the public against Covid19.
The MDC Alliance calls for an open market transport system where registered commuter operators are allowed to compete with ZUPCO buses and offer efficient, affordable transportation alternatives to the general public.
Hon. Settlement Chikwinya (MP)
National Secretary for Transport and Logisticsa