By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
While commuters in Harare have been smiling following the introduction of larger buses by the government at very affordable fares the same cannot be said about commuters using long distance buses. The still disadvantaged travellers are calling on the government to intervene following astronomically high fares charged by operators plying highway and rural routes.
Radio VOP spoke to a number of people who are feeling they are being ripped off by long distance bus operators in this prevailing economic conditions and need government intervention.
A student with Midlands State University (MSU) who travels from Harare to Gweru for her studies during the weekends bemoaned the high fares describing them as outrageous.
“Imagine I have to set aside $40 to and from Gweru when I go there for my weekend classes and what about the other costs I incur there like accommodation and food.
“The fares are obscene, ”said the student who only identified herself as Tilda.
A distance from Rusape to Temaruru is just about 20 km and the bus fare now stand between $5 and $6 which has seen a number of teachers who commuted every day from Rusape to various schools in the area being the hardest hit.
“I am now being forced to fork out between $10 and $12 dollars a day from Rusape to work and if you calculated that with 5 working days against my meagre salary you can see how difficult the situation is now and would be glad if government can intervene promptly,” bemoaned Anyway Chitondo, a teacher at Madziva Primary School in Temaruru.
According to the Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) in a statement government has to also subsidies fuel for long distance buses so that the fares become affordable .
“The government’s introduction of the urban mass transport system through the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) has made daily commuting for cities and towns dwellers affordable.
“Passengers Association of Zimbabwe calls upon government to provide subsidized fuel for buses that ply highways and rural areas since bus fares along highways and in rural areas remain very expensive ,” said PAZ in a statement.
The association also spoke on how the rural folk rely on public transport to purchase farming inputs, going to hospital and when in need of maternity services which could be difficult under the prevailing bus fares.
PAZ president Tafadzwa Goliati implored the government to also rehabilitate rural roads so that people don’t walk long distances to the nearest bus stops.