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Transport operators seek to double fares

COMMUTER fares need to be raised immediately if operators are to break even in the light of critical fuel shortages that have compelled operators to source petrol and diesel from the black market.

ana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Operators say they need to charge commuters double the current $15 000 for a 25 km trip to Mabvuku high-density suburb to remain viable.

In submissions made to the Local Government ministry, they say they are foregoing essential repairs and servicing of their vehicles to cut costs but that this endangers the lives of commuters. Operators are being forced to use unroadworthy vehicles.

Those operators who run 18-seater omnibuses risk incurring losses of up to $3,2 million a day if fares remain at current levels when they have to source fuel from the black market at $80 000 a litre.

It costs $2,7 million per day to run a commuter omnibus at official pump prices of $20 300 a litre with a calculated loss of $407 000 per day at government-stipulated fares. The costs soar to $5,6 million with the operator incurring a $3,2 million daily loss when he buys fuel at black market prices.

These calculations are based on quotations obtained from insurance companies, the city council, the Ministry of Transport and vehicle repair companies.

Other daily costs include oils, car washes, tickets and lunches for the driver and his assistant.

The costs assume that fuel is readily available. Any continued fuel shortages would result in huge losses for the operators as some operational costs such as vehicle insurance and presumptive tax, route permit fees and vehicle licences remain fixed.

Rising commuter fares have worsened the plight of workers whose salaries have remained stagnant despite recent fuel price hikes.

Commuter omnibus operators say government must reach a compromise with them soon to avert a serious transport crisis that has the potential to disrupt industry and commerce and grind it to a halt as workers fail to go to work.

Fuel shortages have become so acute that Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya on Tuesday admitted his council had been compelled to procure fuel from the black market to maintain services.

“We have not received diesel for the past four weeks. For the sake of the health of the residents, we would rather buy the fuel on the parallel market.” Chideya told a parliamentary committee on local government.

Harare City Council used to receive a fuel allocation of 30 000 litres a month from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, but this had been drastically reduced to about 10 000 litres a month. – Staff Writer.

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