Public transport operators hiked commuter fares, Wednesday, following an increase in fuel prices with a single trip in some areas going up to as much as RTGS$4.
This came after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on Monday evening announced it was ending the US$1: RTGS$1 exchange rate for fuel importers, a move that has seen fuel prices rising up by almost 50%.
A survey conducted by CITE revealed that most fuel stations were selling diesel at RTGS$4.89 and petrol at RTGS$4.97 per litre.
In of the fuel price hike, the government moved quickly to avert a crisis by slashing by 50% the fare price for ZUPCO busses.
“Please be advised that the Zupco bus fares on Operation Restore Sanity have been reduced by 50 percent from 21 May 2019. This has been necessitated by the need to cushion the travelling public,” said Finance and Economic Development Permanent Secretary Mr George Guvamatanga.
Some residents from suburbs such as Cowdray Park, Nkulumane and Pumula confirmed to CITE that they were charged RTGS$2 for a single trip to the city centre.
“We paid $2 this morning to town as the Kombi operators said the fare hike was due to the increase in fuel prices. We were forced to use Kombis as these buses that charge 50 cents are few and cannot be able to absorb all the commuting people,” said Ntandoyenkosi Sibanda from Pumula South.
Agrippa Ndebele from Cowdray Park slammed commuter omnibus operators for hiking fares without consulting passengers.
“There was no prior notice that the transporters intend to hike fares. We need to be able to plan properly and adjust our budgets,” he said.
However, public transport operators also dismissed reports that they were planning to withdraw their vehicles in protest of the latest fuel hikes.
“We understand our importance within the community. This message circulating on social media has nothing to do with us. We did not hold any meeting nor did we agree to anything to that effect,” said Bulawayo United Public Transport Association (BUPTA) finance director Keeper Ndlovu.
“We have a lot of stakeholders that we work with. Of course, we understand as people in business that an increase in fuel price affects many factors. To that effect, we will have a meeting and map the way forward. If there is need we will review our prices upwards. At the moment our fares remain at RTGS$1.50,” he said.
Ndlovu said the three transport associations work closely together and to instil public confidence they prioritise transparency.
“We want to be transparent in all that we do so the public does not lose confidence in us. The meeting we are going to have will enable us to establish a way forward on whether we maintain our current fares or we increase accordingly.”