PIRATE kombis yesterday recorded brisk business as most commuters shunned the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) buses which increased fares by 100 percent.
The doubled fares which came into effect yesterday saw commuters forking out $60 for the bus and $80 for the kombis for shorter routes per one-way trip.
The pirate kombis are still charging $50 per trip.
The new development has seen illegal kombis being a preferred option as they are now cheaper.
There was a rare sight of buses canvassing for passengers in most western areas yesterday morning.
Zupco has said the fare hike is necessary to maintain viability.
Zupco chief executive officer Mr Everisto Madangwa said the new fares were a cost containment measure by the company.
“High operational costs and frequent price hikes taking place in the country have forced us to increase the fares to ensure the company improves service delivery as well as cushion its costs. What the public should, however, note is that we do not increase our prices all the time, instead we do it after a period of time,” said Mr Madangwa.
One mushikashika driver told Chronicle that they were not planning to increase their fares.
“As long as the fuel price is still the same, we have no plans to hike our fares thus we will continue operating at $50 per trip. Business was good today. We made more trips than we usually do because there were many people at bus stops than usual. In the morning I made three trips to Pumula South within two hours. Today will indeed be a good day,” he said.
Commuters said that the prices were too high for them.
“The fare hike came as a surprise and it’s really hard to take. Now we have to risk our lives boarding non-Zupco kombis who at any time will play chase with the police, but there’s nothing that we can do. They are now the better alternative because they are now cheaper than Zupco. We can also negotiate with them to board at a $40 they comply but with Zupco, there’s no negotiation,” said Mrs Mercy Ndebele from Mabuthweni suburb.
Mr Godfrey Siziba said the prices were inconsiderate because now that working hours have been cut short some people work on commission.
“Business hours have been cut short meaning that for us who work on commission we are now getting less than usual. Imagine dedicating three quarters of your earnings to bus fare, not even a kombi.
“Now this means some of us will never set our feet in Zupco kombis again because they are too expensive. Using the current rate, the Zupco kombi is now US$1 per trip which is ridiculous,” said Mr Siziba.
Mrs Anathi Mhlanga said the price was pushing up the cost of living and called for government intervention.
“It’s a relief that now schools are closed. When they open all my salary will be for transport. What makes it very sad again is that it’s the only legal transport which means there’s no alternative for us. The Government needs to intervene and the problem has to be solved. The cost of living is now too high,” said Mrs Mhlanga.
The Chronicle news crew yesterday observed that Zupco buses operating from Egodini mall were departing with a handful of passengers.