Nyasha Mlambo and Mazvita Chada
LONG-distance buses plying rural routes have reduced their fares drastically after cashing in on the Christmas holiday as less and less people are travelling and coupled with the allocation of fuel to public transport operators by Government.
Public transport operators hiked bus fares by more than 100 percent ahead of Christmas Day citing fuel challenges.
A survey at Mbare Musika bus terminus and Mbudzi roundabout yesterday revealed that bus fares had gone down, with bus drivers and conductors attributing the reduction to the declining number of travellers.
A trip from Harare to Murombedzi (about 110km), which had been pegged at $15 last weekend, is now $6.
Harare-Gokwe fares have been reduced from $45 to $15. Those travelling from Harare to Masvingo are now parting with $15 instead of the $35 charged at the height of the Xmas rush.
Bus drivers interviewed yesterday said the fares would remain stable if Government continued providing them with diesel.
“At times we get fuel from the Government, so we maintain our fares. Our company gets 2 000 litres of fuel from the Government and it lasts two days. We have 13 buses,” said Mr Shelton Nyanhete from Gold Heritage Bus Service.
He said fare hikes were necessitated by the unavailability of diesel at fuel stations which forced them to resort to the black market.
“Sometimes we are forced to hike fares due to the fuel shortages,” he said.
“We are sometimes forced to go the black market for supplies.”
Another bus driver with Changu Logistics, Mr Lawrence Madobani, said: “We get fuel on the black market, so we had no choice but to hike fares. We are now getting fuel at service stations such as Zuva at low and affordable prices and we havenot increased our fares.”
Travellers welcomed the interventions by Government.
“The fares that were being charged were unreasonable,” said Nakai Mutema, who was travelling to Murombedzi.
“I wanted to celebrate the Christmas holidays with my family in Murombedzi, but I couldn’t because of the high fares that were being charged. Now that they have reduced their fares, I can now travel to my rural home.”