Commuter omnibus operators in Bulawayo hiked fares for the second time in less than two months to $1. The operators who said they are meeting today, warned that fares could be increased again.
A trip into town from suburbs such as Cowdray Park, Emakhandeni, Mpopoma, Mabutweni and Gwabalanda increased to $1 from 75 cents. The operators said their kombis were spending long hours in fuel queues hence the decision to increase fares in order to remain viable. They said at times they were forced to buy expensive fuel on the black market because service stations in Bulawayo were failing to meet demand.
In an interview with The Chronicle, Bulawayo City Transit (BCT) spokesperson Daniel Pondo said they have since written a letter to Bulawayo City Council seeking permission to increase fares. Tshova Mubaiwa Transport Corporation marketing and managing director Mr Ndaba Mabunda said apart from fuel shortages they are also dealing with the issue of expensive spares. Said Mabunda:
At the moment we have pegged the fare at $1 per trip and we are meeting tomorrow to finalise on the issue. Most prices increased by more than 300 percent. A car battery that was $180 is now $554, engine oil was increased from $24 to $150 and some dealers are demanding payment in US dollars.