By Shalom Manguni
Fuel shortages in Harare this week triggered a wave of fare hikes by the fewer kombis on the roads.
Commuters have been spending hours waiting for transport, especially after hours as public transporters are withdrawing vehicles early to either look for fuel or reserve it for the morning rush hour.
There have been long queues, dominated by kombis, at various service stations in the capital this week.
Kombi fares have at least doubled as operators with fuel cash in on the demand for public transport.
With fares up to a minimum $2, some commuters have had to wait for cheaper options like trucks.
Meanwhile, the kombi operators attribute the hikes to buying fuel on the black market where it costs up to double the official price – a claim many commuters dismiss as an excuse.
“I spent two hours in town hoping to find cheaper transport but the available kombis had the same fares and even that seat when you have to face everyone ‘kadoma’ was expensive as well and people were scrambling for it.
“I don’t get it why kombi operators hike fares when things are hard for everyone, judging from the current situation,” a commuter from Chitungwiza said.
Trucks have become the alternative for some passengers mainly from Chitungwiza, Domboshava and Epworth as they will be trying to save as much as possible for other commodities.
Mellisa Gumbo from Epworth said she has no option but use pick-up trucks as her means of transport as the fares are reasonable.
“From Epworth to town you are charged only a dollar if you use pickup trucks and it’s reasonable.
“The only problem is that people will be pressurising to be the first ones to get in because they cannot raise the new fares, if you are not careful enough you will get hurt.
“For women it’s a disadvantage because sometimes we will be wearing something which is not comfortable enough for such scenarios but one has to sacrifice some of the things so as to survive in this current situation,” she said.
Another commuter from Domboshava said commuters have to brace up for another difficult phase hoping that things will get better.
“Price hikes have become a norm of the day and the kombi fares are now very expensive but we can’t do anything about it.
“Inasmuch as I’m not happy with the new bus fare, we just have to embrace it and bear in mind that these kombi operators are people like us and they also want to survive,” he said. H Metro