Fares slashed as transporters compete

Stiff competition for passengers between local commuter buses and cabs popularly known as Mushikamushika has seen fares dropping by as much as 50% here.

Kombi token used as cash change.
Kombi token used as cash change.

Kombis that normally charge 50c per passenger for a local trip from the town centre to residential destinations have slashed the fare by half, following the sudden invasion of the local transport sector by used sedans, imported mostly from Japan.

These cabs offer greater comfort and have become an instant hit with commuters. “Many people are now shunning the kombis, whose crews tend to be rude and dishonest when it comes to change. Commuters are having the last laugh,” said Josphat Mlambo of Nyameni.

Commuters accused kombi operators of inconveniencing them by forcing them to accept circular metal discs as change. These tokens are only usable in kombis, as they are not legal tender.

Most people interviewed by The Zimbabwean expressed joy at the coming in of the cabs.

“The competition has brought normalcy to the commuter transport industry. Kombis charged unreasonably high fares before the cabs arrived. We are no longer interested in boarding the aged kombis, which have outlived their lifespan,” said one commuter.

A ‘Mushikamushika’ taxi operator, Mavis Ndou, admitted the competition was healthy for a market economy.

“The travelling public should have alternatives as the kombis tended to milk commuters dry,” she said, adding that old kombis should be phased out.

But commuters are afraid that the fierce competition between the kombis and cabs could spark bloody clashes. “There are times when kombi touts block people from boarding taxis at the kombi ranks. This has resulted in near fist fights between the cabmen and the kombi crews,” said another resident.

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