HARARE – Commuter operators in Harare have hiked fares for the second time in as many months, angering passengers on the city’s largest mass transit system.
The cost of riding a mini bus or small commuter cars called mushika-shika has increased to $1 from $0,75.
The fare had just been hiked from $0,50 for routes linking several residential areas and the CBD.
Fares for far flung routes such as Chitungwiza have been hiked to between $1.50 to $2 per trip.
Operators cited the inordinate amount of time spent in fuel queues, sourcing of fuel from the black market, escalation in operation costs amid worsening foreign currency shortages to buy motor spares.
While Energy minister Joram Gumbo and his secretary Gloria Magombo were unreachable for comment yesterday, Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (GHACO) representative Ngoni Kasvairo said so far they have not been given an official go-ahead to hike prices, but operators are just doing it to survive in the current economic hardships.
“The problem is that the fuel crisis is causing kombis to spend half a day in long queues hence miss out in meeting targets, so to make up for that, the operators opt for a hike in order to get enough money.
“So, the issue goes beyond fuel crisis because the cost of living has risen and most retailers are pegging their stipends in foreign currency,” Kasvairo said.
Angry passengers have been protesting the hikes, with some refusing to board commuters. During peak hours, the fares go as high as $2.
Chitungwiza passengers have been witnessed stranded along Julius Nyerere Street after 7pm in desperate bid to catch the cheapest transportation.
Pick-up trucks have become the alternative for many passengers who are trying to save as much as possible.
The hike of fares has added burden on passengers who are already dealing with inflated prices of basic commodities.
Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) president Tafadzwa Goliath said the hikes were battering hapless passengers who are left with no choice but to get alternative transport from open trucks.
“Many people I spoke to are saying that they have no choice but to get alternative transport because the fares are too high. They are saying they can even board donkey carts, cows or anything just to go to work, and the fuel crisis has escalated the situation so they simply have no choice,” Goliath said.