By Nqobile Tshili
Long distance bus operators have increased their fares by up to 100 percent, with most attributing the hikes to fuel shortages that are forcing them to buy it on the black market.
Operators said yesterday that the hikes have nothing to do with the festive season. They however said they were not ruling out further increases as from the weekend as more people start travelling to various destinations for the Christmas holidays.
Buses that ply the Bulawayo-Nkayi route have increased their fares from an average of $10 to $20 while those that travel the Bulawayo-Kezi road have increased their fares to $15 from $8.
Bus fares for Bulawayo-Tsholotsho routes have also gone up as well as fares for the Bulawayo- Gwanda and Bulawayo- Filabusi routes.
Luxury buses plying the Bulawayo-Harare road have also increased their fares from $40 to $50 while other buses have increased fares to between $15 and $30.
The buses travelling the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road have also marginally increased their fares. In separate interviews long distance bus operators said the increase in bus fares were influenced by the economic situation.
“Our bus fares have gone up. Our licensed route charge to Nkayi Centre is $6 but we are now charging between $9 and $12 for the same trip. The fares are actually higher for areas further than Nkayi centre with some passengers paying as much as $20,” said a bus driver who plies the Bulawayo-Nkayi road.
He said fare increases were as a result of fuel shortages which were forcing some operators to buy the precious liquid on the black market where it is expensive.
Another driver, Mr Lizwe Ndlovu who plies the Bulawayo-Kezi route said their fares had gone up from $8 to $15.
“We buy five litres of diesel for $18 bond on the parallel market. We travel overnight which makes it impossible for us to queue for fuel. When we do queue for fuel it automatically means that we cancel the trip that day resulting in scores of people being stranded,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Travellers said they had no option but to pay the exorbitant fares. They said what made their situation worse was that the operators had also hiked charges for luggage.
“I think what some of these bus operators are now doing is daylight robbery. After charging me $15 which is double the normal fare, I have been asked to pay $40 via Ecocash or $30 bond for my luggage ,” said Ms Nomsa Ndlovu from Kezi. The Chronicle