Rutendo Ngara, Chronicle Reporter
RESIDENTS in parts of Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb are paying up to $15 per trip to the city centre after the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) withdrew buses citing bad roads.
Buses used to charge $1 per trip and the low fare forced commuter omnibuses to charge $5.
Kombis have taken advantage of the absence of buses on the Esigodweni and Empompini routes to treble their fares.
Zupco Southern Region manager Mr Tinei Rwasoka yesterday said operators withdrew buses because the roads were in a very bad state.
He said the company does not have power over transport operators because they have their terms and conditions of service.
“Operators have withdrawn their buses because of the state of the roads. The areas are not accessible because of bad roads hence the withdrawal of buses,” said Mr Rwasoka.
Cowdray Park Councillor Kidwell Mujuru raised the issue during a full council meeting on Wednesday last week. “People in Cowdray Park are struggling. The roads are very bad and Zupco is no longer plying our route. Kombis and private cars are charging exorbitant fares of up to $15 a trip,” said Cllr Mujuru.
He said some residents were walking up to eight kilometres to board buses in Gwabalanda suburb.
“Schools are opening next week and children from Cowdray Park need buses which are cheaper,” said Clr Mujuru.
Kombi driver Mr Hloniphani Ncube said the roads were in a terrible state hence the decision to charge $15 per trip.
“The kombi operators still servicing the area are taking a risk because they are damaging their vehicles. Our charges are fair because Esigodweni is almost in Nyamandlovu. The fare cannot be the same as for those coming from Mzilikazi or Mpopoma suburbs,” said Mr Ncube.
What is however surprising is that small cars like Honda Fit pirate taxis are plying the route.
A Cowdray Park resident Mr Pumula Moyo said Honda Fit were charging as high as $20 especially at night.
“We now know that after 9PM the fare increases to $20 and most of the vehicles available that time are Honda Fit,” said Mr Moyo.
An Empompini resident Ms Monica Mlambo said it did not make sense for Zupco buses operators to claim that the roads were terrible when smaller cars like Honda Fit were using the same roads. — @missngara