COMMUTERS in Harare are resisting attempts by omnibus operators to hike fares on many of the city’s routes.
BY TAWANDA MARWIZI
The operators took advantage of the recent fuel hike to double fares especially during peak hours.
There was near chaos last week as disgruntled commuters, who felt cheated, tried to resist the new fares at a number of ranks in the city.
At Market Square terminus there was confrontation between commuters and operators which nearly degenerated into a fist-fight.
The commuters were demanding that fares be reduced to
US$0,50 from the US$1 they were being charged.
“You need soldiers to beat you up again,” shouted one man who was in the crowd. “Those who are charging US$1 must just leave this place.”
Last year, soldiers beat up kombi drivers and touts in central Harare in revenge after their colleagues had been beaten by touts.
The attack forced some rank marshalls to desert their spots for some days in fear of the soldiers.
For the past two weeks, commuters to areas such as Chitungwiza were being charged between US$1,50 and US$2 during peak hours. The normal fares are between US$0,50 and US$1 for a single trip.
Commuters in other suburbs such as Mufakose, Glenview, Waterfalls and Budiriro were being forced to fork out between US$1 and US$1,50 compared to the normal fare of US$0,50.
Trust Mabota of Waterfalls said it had become a trend for transport operators to overcharge commuters whenever fuel prices go up.
Another commuter, Tinos Magada said: “We have just come from the holidays and as we speak, children need money to go for holiday lessons. We need rentals. Where can we get the money to pay US$2 to go to Chitungwiza?”
Some commuters said they were now opting for private vehicles.
Misheck Dongo from Chitungwiza said private vehicles were more flexible with their fares.
Some commuters said they were now forced to wander around town until late into the night when fares would be reduced.
FARE INCREASES UNJUSTIFIED — POLICE
National traffic police spokesperson, Tigere Chigome said “unjustified” fare hikes were causing tension and fights between the public and transport operators.
“We understand the fuel price hikes, but it does not explain the overcharging of people by commuter operators. We will make sure each and every vehicle displays its fare table,” said Chigome.
He said they would encourage traffic officers to control the situation, which he said needed the help of the public.
The price of fuel recently rose by up to 10% after the government last month increased exercise duty on the commodity by 25%.