Zim commuters find alternative means to get home

Features Zimbabwe

Dean Dhumbura

COMMUTERS in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare are looking for alternative cheaper means to reach their destinations following another fuel hike last week.

It is now difficult to travel to and from work for commuters who rely on public transport after the latest fuel price hike effected by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, Zera, last week.

Following the fuel increase, private commuter omnibus operators increased fares by 50 cents from RTGS$2.50 and by a dollar on some routes, leaving many commuters in Harare stranded.

A spot check by ZTN News at various pick up points in Harare found long queues of commuters waiting for Zupco buses to take them to their destinations.

The Government revived the public transport company, Zupco at subsidized fares to cushion the travelling public against the rising transport costs, but commuters say the fleet is failing to cope with travellers at peak hours.

Some commuters end up with torn clothes and losing valuables such as wallets to pick pockets as they scramble for the few Zupco buses.

Zupco buses charge 50 cents per trip for a distance of 17 kilometres and 75 cents for more than 20 kilometres from the city to residential areas.

Gladys Chimukangara who lives in Dzivarasekwa, a working class suburb in Harare, said she is being forced to stand in long queues for Zupco buses to beat the high travel costs.

“I used to pay RTGS$2,00 for a trip to the city but now its RTGS$2,50 or RTGS$ 3,00 depending on the time of the day. It is expensive for me to get to work and many times I am late waiting for Zupco buses whose service is not reliable,”Chimukangara said.

To beat the high fares some commuters are riding in open trucks where they pay RTGS$1.00 for a single trip. Others walk to their destinations.

The situation is dire for commuters in Chitungwiza a dormitory town 30
kilometres from Harare. Commuters there are forking out RTGS$10.00 for a day’ many times I am late waiting for Zupco buses whose service is not
reliable,”Chimukangara said.

It is more painful for William Chengeta who works in Borrowdale, an upmarket suburb 16 kilometres outside the capital’s Central Business District, as he has to pay an extra RTGS$5.00 for the, journey from Chitungwiza to Harare and then to Borrowdale.

” I wake up early to get into Harare, then I finish the journey from the city to Borrowdale on foot, its painful,” Chengeta told ZTN.

In the wake of the fuel shortages and the expensive fares that have hit the
Southern African country, Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi has urged Zimbabweans to consider using bicycles.

Zera has been periodically hiking fuel prices since January and this has hit hard the pockets of the commuting public. Greater Harare Association of Commuter Omnibus Operators Secretary General Ngoni Katsvairo said the constant increase of fuel prices has forced them to increase fares.

Fuel prices have gone up several times this year, starting with a 150% increase in January which saw the price of petrol surging from $1.34 per litre to $3.31.