Shalom Manguni, H-Metro Reporter
…Fuel shortages to blame
…Kombi fares hiked
COMMUTERS were left stranded on Monday night as transport blues hit the capital due to fuel shortages.
Commuters had to part with at least $3 to $5 for a one way trip in the wake of fuel shortages.
Some commuters in suburbs like Chitungwiza, Hatfield and Epworth among others said there were few Zupco buses at ranks.
“In Warren Park the Zupco programme was no longer in place because people preferred kombis.
“After people got stuck on Monday, we saw the importance of having these ZUPCOs,” a Warren Park resident said.
A Hatfield resident added:
“We didn’t see any Zupco bus yesterday and people were saying the bus never operated on Monday.
“Generally the Zupco programme is not fully functional.
“It was effective when it was introduced when they followed the specified timetable but these days they can be late and they are not reliable.”
There were long winding queues at several service stations yesterday in the Central Business District following short supply of diesel.
Commuter omnibus drivers said they waited for long hours before they got fuel.
Some kombis hiked fares arguing they were getting the fuel at exorbitant prices.
“Last year we had a meeting with the government and we agreed on new fares ranging between $1 and $3 depending on the distance.
“The $ 1, 50 fare for a trip to Chitungwiza is not fair considering the fuel prices but it will be fair if people start paying $3.
“The government said less than 10km distances should be $1, 11km to 20km $2 and for 21km should be $3 while for long distances 10 cents per kilometre was agreed.
“We should stick to what we agreed on since $3 for Chitungwiza commuters is reasonable as per what we agreed on.
“Yesterday I finished work at 3pm because I had no fuel but obviously if there are few kombis, fares will go up,” said Baba Joy a commuter omnibus owner.
Most commuter omnibus drivers said transport crisis experienced by commuters were because of diesel shortages.
“Diesel is in short supply and yesterday almost all services stations had no fuel.
“We spent the whole day in the queues but most of us were not able to get fuel and when it was peak hour we couldn’t manage to be on the road therefore, this was the main reason why many people got stuck in town,” a Mabvuku commuter omnibus operator Farai Mike said.
Another Chitungwiza commuter omnibus operator said:
“Huremende ngaiise mafuta munyika, if not we will keep hiking kombi fares.
“Sometimes you get 10 litres of fuel after spending seven hours in the queue and commuters can’t expect me to charge the normal kombi fare. Obviously fares will increase so as to pay for those hours spent in the queue.
“Nezuro anga ari ma1, we spent the whole day parked at a service station hoping to get fuel.”
An unidentified kombi driver pleaded with the government to stabilise the fuel crisis.
“We are not hiking kombi fares intentionally but people should understand that we are also making a living out of this and if the government doesn’t take action our families won’t survive, the economy is not favourable to everyone.
“If government takes action in making sure that there is enough fuel at service stations I’m certain that people will never be stranded and kombi fares will stabilise.
“Yesterday, we bought diesel at the black market of which it was very expensive that is why some of us decided to hike the fares.
“Most Chitungwiza kombis didn’t increase their fares,” he said.