Fuel shortage forces fares up

BULAWAYO - Transport operators here have further raised commuter fares by 50% citing the ever fuel costs at the black market where it is readily available.
Commuter fares have been raised to Z$200 000 from $150 000 with effect from Saturday (today), the fourth increase in less than three months after the last fares increases, further adding strain on struggling Zimbabweans battling food shortages.

Transport operators argue the cost of running their fleet is becoming costly due to high fuel costs and other charges. Five litres of petrol or diesel at the black market is being sold for anything between $700 000 and $800 000.

Fuel prices now regularly go up in response to the fall of the local currencies against major currencies. This week the local currency has lost a bottom against major currencies this week fell drastically major currencies.

Fuel is not available at official garages after the government price cut edict in June that also the struggling National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (ZOCZIM) being given back the monopoly to import and sell fuel.

Strike Ndlovu, the chairman of the Bulawayo Transport Association told CAJ News that the fare increases were necessary to prevent their business from total collapse.

“There is nothing that we can do but raise the commuter fares as fuel is now just expensive and we are not making any profits against operational costs,” said Ndlovu.

But Mandlenkosi Moyo, Bulawayo police spokesperson said the police would launch a crackdown against the defiant commuter operators as the fare increases were not sanctioned by the government.

“The latest fare increases are illegal,” said Moyo.

In July, more than 100 transport operators were thrown into prison cells and ordered to pay exorbitant fines for defying a government order to slash their fares from Z$50 000 to $30 000.

But following the crackdown, the transport operators reacted to the order to slash their fares by parking their commuter omnibuses, resulting in severe transport shortages. – CAJ News

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