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Zimbabweans in last minute Christmas shopping

by Staff reporter
25 Dec 2023 at 09:29hrs | Views
Errant bus crews and rogue operators yesterday took advantage of the high demand for passenger transport to illegally double fares as thousands of people around the country did last minute shopping ahead of Christmas Day festivities today.

The errant bus crews and the unregistered rogue operators took advantage of desperate travellers to hike fares with long queues characterising bus termini across the nation.

The Herald found buses plying the Harare to Murehwa route were charging anything between US$10 and US$15 from the usual fares ranging from US$3 to US$5.

Crews were demanding US$20 for a journey to Mutare, up from the usual US$10, while those going to Rusape from Harare were being asked to pay US$10 instead of the usual US$5.

Contacted for comment the Zimbabwe Passenger Transport Organisation secretary-general, Mr Wilfred Chibage said the fare hikes were not sanctioned by operators.

"Bus fares have not gone up and we are charging in line with Government regulations which stipulate that we charge six cents per kilometre. So if you calculate the distance from Harare to Mutare, you will find that people are paying less than the stipulated fares," he said.

Mr Chibage said some of the bus crews who were overcharging were not authorised transporters, but pirate operators who were taking advantage of the holiday season.

ZPTO chairman Dr Sam Nhanhanga recently urged citizens, drivers, passengers and pedestrians to join hands and fight road carnage during this season.

"We have realised compliance is being eroded day-by-day due to lack of communication among bus operators, bus crews and the law interpreters. Road carnage has become an enormous killer in this country because of accidents.

"According to the UN, Zimbabwean accidents cost four percent of our GDP. At the same time, experts have predicted a four percent growth of GDP, meaning we are going nowhere.

"Fellow citizens, drivers, passengers and pedestrians let's join hands and fight road carnage.

"We have seen it worthwhile to come together during this period where Christians and non-Christians move from one place to the other in high volumes celebrating Christmas and New Year holidays. Drinking and over excitement are at their highest level," said Dr Nhanhanga.

He added: "We need your word of wisdom to safeguard the lives of citizens and all trespassers. To my fellow bus operators and other road users, it has been proved that human error is the main cause of accidents."

Police assured members of the public that they would be heavily deployed countrywide to thwart any criminal activities as well as arresting those who flout traffic regulations.

This, however, comes after 39 people were injured when two buses they were travelling in were involved in separate road accidents between Saturday and early yesterday morning.

In a statement, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said one of the road accidents occurred on Saturday at around 1pm when a bus travelling along Centenary-Muzarabani Road failed to negotiate a curve at the 55km peg and rammed on the mountain side of the road.

"The bus had 68 passengers. Fifteen passengers sustained various injuries due to the accident and were taken to St Albert Mission hospital for treatment.

The other accident, about 12 hours later, was at around 1am yesterday where the driver failed to negotiate a blind rise at the 22 km peg, Gwayi River, along Binga Road near Kamativi and rolled backwards.

The bus had 74 passengers on board and fell on its side and 24 passengers were injured. They were taken to Kamativi clinic for treatment.

"Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police is concerned with road traffic accidents recorded so far in which motorists are running over pedestrians throughout the country. The pedestrians will either be standing on the side of the road, bus stop or walking beside the road.

"Public service vehicle operators are implored not to overload their vehicles as this is contributing to some of the accidents being recorded. The Zimbabwe Republic Police will release consolidated road traffic accident statistics for the Unity Day, Christmas and Boxing days on December 27, 2023.

"The police reiterates that no private taxis or mushikashika will be allowed to pass through police check points which include road safety campaign points," Asst Comm Nyathi said.

Source - The Herald