BY SHARON BUWERIMWE
THE fuel crisis that has affected the country in the past week has sparked increases in transport costs, with transporters hiking their fares ahead of the festive season.
Since last week, transport operators have hiked fares by over 100% with a local route usually pegged at $60 now costing $200.
It has also resulted in the black market fuel resurfacing, with five litres going for US$12, up from US$7.
Last week, government said the fuel shortages were being caused by maintenance works at Beira in Mozambique.
Operators plying the Harare-Bulawayo route increased their fares from US$15 to US$25, while those plying rural routes also increased their fares.
The Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) yesterday warned unscrupulous operators, adding the unsanctioned increases were a cause of concern.
They urged government to intervene.
PAZ president Tafadzwa Goliath said: “Fares can only increase if there is a fuel hike, and also if government has approved it. People do not have money, they were affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, and they are still incapacitated. The operators should understand all this and be kind to the passengers.”
Goliath said transport operators should desist from taking advantage of passengers by sticking to their normal fares since salaries were too low, and they were already languishing in poverty.
However, he said some operators were forced to increase fares due to the high demand of transport sparked by the fuel shortages.
“Transporters overcharge commuters during the festive season due to demand. They also want to profit in anticipation of huge volumes of travellers during the festive season. But we don’t encourage the illegal hikes,” Goliath said.
He warned travellers against using private transport, adding that they should adhere to World Health Organisation set regulations and protocols to avoid contracting COVID-19.
Government last week said the fuel crisis was being addressed, adding that the situation would normalise beginning today. Motorists have, however, been hoarding the precious liquid in anticipation of a dry festive season.