Public transport fares across the board in Zimbabwe have remained stagnant despite last week`s fuel price increases, bringing temporary relief to commuters who anticipated a hefty fare hike.
The fuel price jumped last week to US$1.68 for diesel and US$1.67 for petrol per litre, triggering strong fears that public transporters could hike fares by a steep margin in response.
But, the majority of the public transporters have not increased fares in response to the fuel price hike, according to the Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ).
“Right now, the fares have not increased according to the assessment that we have done here in Harare and elsewhere we have been. If they (transport operators) are going to increase fares they should at least notify us so that we are prepared, said Tafadzwa Goliati,” the president of PAZ.
He said if transporters hike fares they should consider that many people`s salaries have not been raised in line with the increasing inflation. Goliati said that many commuters are already struggling to afford transport fares, thus a marked increase in the ticket fees would push them further into poverty.
“Commuter fees are already expensive and, in some areas, ZUPCO transporters are not enough leaving people to use private transport, which costs more,” Goliati said.
The government has provided ZUPCO buses and brought more under the franchise as a way to provide cheaper transport to commuters and the travelling public.
Goliati added: “What we are saying is the fares should not be increased and the government should make the necessary interventions for the fares not to rise so that people have some temporary relief. If the fares go up a lot of people will be forced to folk out more on transport and with the current salary regime not many will afford it.”
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority on Saturday announced that it had agreed with the government and industry to freeze the fuel prices at the current level while monitoring supply developments. The government has attributed the fuel price hikes to the Russia-Ukraine war, which has disrupted the crude oil supply from Moscow, the third-largest exporter of the commodity.
“We have heard that His Excellency (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) wants to cushion people from fare increases by reducing fuel import duties. If it is true then we welcome the decision because we cannot bear another fare increase, especially after having one recently,” Goliati said.
ZUPCO in mid-February hiked fares to see commuter omnibuses charge ZW$100 per trip and ZW$80 for buses, covering a distance of 0 – 20km. Buses currently charge ZW$120 for distances between 21km and 40km.