COMMUTER omnibuses in Bulawayo will tomorrow increase their fares from R5 to R6, with operators citing the decline in South Africa’s currency compared to the United States dollar.
This comes amid revelations that kombi operators in the city continue to refuse bond coins claiming that garages were also not accepting the coins when they buy fuel.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, however, blasted the kombi operators saying
the Government has been hesitant to regulate fares but if the operators go ahead and increase their fares tomorrow, he will be forced to intervene.
He said it was a known fact that fuel prices had gone down, hence the commuter omnibus operators had no justification in increasing the fares.
“In the past we have let them be free to charge as they wish, believing that they were considerate. If they don’t want to realise that travelling has to be affordable and consider that fuel prices were recently reduced hence no justification for them to hike fares, we will definitely be forced to intervene.
“What they should never forget is that they cannot just increase their charges willy-nilly. They should first consult either the Government or the public; in this instance we will be forced to intervene which is what we did not want to happen,” said Dr Mpofu.
Bulawayo United Public Transporters Association(BUPTA) chairperson Mr Strike Ndlovu yesterday confirmed the increase of kombi fares, saying their pricing model was dependent on the rate of the rand.
“While you might say we are increasing, for us we are just reacting to the rate of the rand as compared to United States dollar. We are still charging $1 for two passengers, meaning if one passenger pays $1, they receive six rand change but in the event that they want to pay using the rand the charge will be R6.
“What has prompted us to do this is the ever declining rate of the South African rand,” Mr Ndlovu said.
However, questioned on the controversy surrounding the rejection of bond coins by kombi operators, Mr Ndlovu declined to comment but noted that it was difficult for them to accept them since they were being turned down by service stations.
“I cannot comment about the price in terms of the bond coins because I have not received them. None of my drivers has ever cashed them maybe it is them who reject them but what I know is that garages do not accept them.
“It is also unfortunate that I was not around when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor addressed commuter omnibus operators regarding the use of these bond coins.
“I am also not sure how much will be charged when using the bond coins because as far as we are concerned they are not operational,” said Mr Ndlovu.
On Thursday, RBZ governor Mr John Mangudya met commuter omnibus operators in the city where he explained the economic impact of the bond coins and further stated that it was illegal for the kombi operators to turn them down.