Commuters Celebrate Shutdown Benefits

By Wisdom Mumera

Harare commuters today (Monday) expressed happiness for the seemingly positive results of the recent shutdown protests after commuter operators reduced their fares for transport into the Central Business District.

Kombi operators some of whom were exorbitantly charging as much as $2 for short distances such as Warren Park to town, $3 to Kuwadzana and $5 from Norton, citing a hike in fuel prices have had to adjust their prices back to $1 and $1.50.

This move follows government’s introduction of buses to service the same routes at lower charges putting pressure on the kombi operators to change their pricing or lose customers.

“It no longer made sense to go to work when the bigger percentage of the salary was now set to cover transport only. That was part of reason why the shutdown was so successful; we had no money to go to work,” said one lady from Warren Park.

Another elderly commuter, Simon Mutamba, added that the change was good news for their pockets.

“It was pure madness. How do you have a kombi charging $3 for such a short journey from Kuwadzana even if there had been a fuel hike? We are breathing better now though much still needs to be done,” he said.

However, kombi operators, seemingly aggrieved at the loss of business, were cynical of the move saying it would further damage government’s coffers.

“Vabereki (the passengers) are happy that government has brought in these buses but this will affect it in the long run because these buses are getting full tanks, but who is paying for all that expensive fuel is the question,” said one tout

He further explained that kombis have reduced their fares to remain competitive but it will not be sustainable for them going forward.

The recent hike in fuel prices was the catalyst for violent protests over the increasingly high cost of living in the country.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which called for the stay away has since demanded that government reduce the price of fuel and remove the bond notes among some of the economic interventions to stabilize the situation.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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