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US$1 no longer covers two trips: Commuters in Byo lament

The currency volatility and the rise in fuel prices are causing a massive strain on commuters in Bulawayo who have to pay more for a single trip.  

Commuters in Bulawayo, especially in the western areas, are crying foul over transport fares after commuter operators increased prices, in a bid to stay afloat.

For a single trip, one has to pay ZWL$300, and the situation is dire as US$1 can no longer pay for two trips, as has been the norm.

This has caused confusion among commuters who noted that the street value of the US$1 ranged from ZWL$600 going upwards, so it was ‘unfair’ for commuter operators to peg a lower rate for one dollar.

“If one pays their fare with Rands, the fare is R10. So, a dollar used to be worth R20 and could guarantee two trips. Now kombis say US$1 is worth R15 and they change you R5, which is not enough for another trip,” said Crispen Makhalima from Magwegwe West Suburb who was livid after receiving R5 change.

“Where is this country going? If I had money, I would be driving my own car but I can’t afford it. We used to sympathise with kombis now they are taking advantage of us. This shows us it’s each man for himself and that there is no need to sympathise with the next person because when they can, they will take advantage and inflict harm on you.”

Another commuter from Emganwini Suburb, Andile Moyo, concurred kombis that ply her route charged ZWL$300 for one trip and pegged the US$1 at ZWL$350.

“If you pay using one dollar, you are given R5 change as kombis say the R5 is equivalent to ZWL$150. So, this means US$1 is worth ZWL$350, which is way less than the exchange rate on the street market,” she said, arguing that commuter omnibuses were taking advantage of the unstable exchange rate.

“Kombis must not tell us they are using the official exchange rate because they have never used the formal auction rate.”

This situation is the same for commuters who use the Emganwini to Town route, Tshabalala to D-Square, Emganwini to Cowdray Park and Emganwini to D-Square.

“There is no more half ticket where you pay less if your route is shorter. Everyone now pays the same amount,” Moyo said.

Ashley Sibanda noted passengers would have to rely on the services of Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (Zupco), as their prices were still fair though they had no capacity to service many customers.

“The ZUPCO bus charges R5 and makes it a point to change you R10, if you have a dollar, as their exchange rate of US$1 is R15. ZUPCO kombi charges 200 bond and if you pay US$ they change you 200 which can afford you two trips if you ZUPCO again,” she said.

Transport woes come at a time when the price of diesel and petrol has gone up to roughly US$1.83 and US$1.90 per litre, respectively.

Prices of basic goods and services have also been skyrocketing as the local currency slides downwards while inflation races away, a situation that is worsened by the unstable exchange rate.

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