By Lennon Manyengawana
The country has been thrown into disarray as bus fares rose to unprecedented levels. Today (Tuesday) most people woke up to the amazement or rather astonishment that their bus fares have doubled or even tripled over night. This has led to some places having no transport at all for the regular working people that go into Harare every single day.
The bus fares that are being demanded are ridiculously hefty such that it goes beyond the reach of many working Zimbabweans who are operating below the poverty datum line. Ordinarily, a civil service employee earns a net salary of $400 which can be sucked up by just the bus fare and the lunch expenses that one incurs on a daily basis.
Last night, commuter ommini buses that go to Mabvuku were charging a fare of $2.50 for a distance of only 21.1km whilst Marondera was charged $7 and Domboshava $5 which is unbelievable considering that not so long, Mabvuku used to be charged $1 and on a good day you could even pay as little as $0.50.
One is left questioning if it is economically viable to be going to work every day at such an exorbitant fare? Hence nurses have resorted to reporting to work twice a week as their plight is real. One wonders how a doctor will be able to attend his or her call at midnight and at what fare if they are going to be using public transport of a cab to go to their respective posts.
In an interview with Obvious Mabheka, who is a driver who plies the Glenloarn-Tollgate -Mother Care -Chishawasha route, he mentioned that, “We had to abandon our usual rates as everything we need to keep our vehicles safe and road worthy is being demanded in foreign currency, whether it is tyres, oils or spares, we have to pay in united states dollars that we can only get at a rate hence our prices also needed adjustment.”
He also added, “It’s not only about spares but also the fuel factor. There some service stations that are demanding foreign currency and we have to resort to paying hard currency since they don’t have long queues other than spending the whole day in a queue whilst people don’t have transport.”
Speaking to the public you would sense pessimism as people are no longer sure if they can be able to come to work for the following weeks if this madness persists. Many have indicated that this is a very serious issue that needs to be treated with the urgency that it deserves otherwise people will end up in a forced industrial action as circumstances will overtake their financial abilities and it will cease to make sense to be going to work if your salary can only pay for your bus fare and nothing else.