Michelle Nyanzira, Chronicle Reporter
THERE is confusion after some Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) kombis reduced fares to US$1 for two people from $1 per person, to compete with pirate taxis that have taken business away from them.
It was not clear if the reduction was official as some vehicles from the public transporter stuck to the fares that were announced last week.
Zupco buses and kombis increased fares by 100 percent last week pegging bus fare at $60 and kombis $80 (almost US$1).
Pirate kombis maintained their $50 fare and commuters started avoiding Zupco buses that would move between destinations with as little as four passengers.
Zupco southern division operations manager Mr Tineyi Rwasoka yesterday declined to comment and referred questions to acting chief executive officer Mr Evaristo Madangwa, whose mobile phone has been ringing without answer since yesterday.
Mandated to keep fares affordable, Zupco is the sole public transporter while others are operating illegally.
Conductors from the registered transporter told the news crew conflicting stories.
“We just woke up today to be told that the omnibus fare was now $60 or US$1 for 2 or 10 rand. Communication came from the officials, we do not know much about the new changes,” said a conductor who declined to be named.
Another said they were told to stick to the increased charges.
“We were told that for Nkulumane 12 prices have not changed, we do not know why. As time goes on people should accept the prices,” she said.
A pirate kombi driver told the Chronicle that their price is still $50 and passengers sometimes negotiate to board for as little as $30.
“We are still making profit at $50. We heard that Zupco said they were making losses when they were charging $40 for kombis. We don’t know how that can be because we don’t get Government subsidies like they do, yet we make money. Anyway, the confusion makes a good case for us to be allowed to operate officially once again,” said the driver.
Commuters said they preferred the cheaper pirate taxis, although they sometimes endangered their lives when they get involved in high-speed chases with police.
Mrs Emma Moyo from Sizinda said the cost of living is too high and “Zupco leaders” should take that into consideration before they increase transport charges.
“We can’t fork out $160 every day to get to town when we can pay $100 to unregistered kombis. During this level 4 lockdown, where do they think we will get money from, the cost of living is high,” she said.
Mr Innocent Ndebele from Nketa said Zupco is a mass public transport system with a motto of being safe, reliable and affordable, so it should not have increased fares.
“Zupco has always been our safe haven, so what was the reason for increasing prices when fuel prices are still the same. No one was going to que for hours for those prices when they can simply use mushikashika which is $50,” he said.