Natasha Chamba, Chronicle Reporter
COMMUTER operators in Bulawayo have hiked fares for the second time in less than two months to $1.
The operators who said they are meeting today, warned that the fares could be increased again.
The fare for a trip into town from suburbs such as Cowdray Park, Emakhandeni, Mpopoma, Mabutweni and Gwabalanda increased to $1 from 75 cents.
The operators said their kombis were spending long hours in fuel queues hence the decision to increse fares in order to remain viable.
They said at times they were forced to buy expensive fuel on the black market because service stations in the city were failing to meet demand.
Tshova Mubaiwa Transport Corporation, Bulawayo City Transit (BCT) and Bulawayo Public Transport Association representatives said their business has been hit hard by fuel shortages.
Tshova Mubaiwa marketing and managing director Mr Ndaba Mabunda said operators were meeting today to decide on the fare as they are of the view that $1 a trip is not enough given the expenses.
“At the moment we have pegged the fare at $1 per trip and we are meeting tomorrow to finalise on the issue,” he said.
Mr Mabunda said apart from fuel shortages, operators were grappling with high prices of spares.
“Most prices increased by more than 300 percent. A car battery that was $180 is now $554, engine oil was increased from $24 to $150 and some dealers are demanding payment in US dollars,” he said.
BCT spokesperson Mr Daniel Pondo said they have since written a letter to Bulawayo City Council seeking permission to increase fares.
Commuters who spoke to The Chronicle yesterday expressed outrage at the latest development.
They accused the operators of being insensitive to their plight given that their alaries have not been increased.
The commuters said the fare hike was unjustified because the price of fuel has not been increased.
Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) president Mr Tafadzwa Goliath said some people have resorted to walking to work because they cannot afford the new fares.