Published on : Tuesday, December 24, 2013
In the past, long-distance bus operators enjoyed brisk business during the year-end Christmas and New Year holidays, prompting some to temporarily hike bus fares during the period.
However, the survey carried out by New Ziana at Harare’s Mbare Musika bus terminus has revealed that the brisk business they used to enjoy in recent years was not evident on Monday.
Operators and rank marshals who spoke to New Ziana said business was low this festive season compared with previous years.
“People are not travelling this festive season and we have to struggle to get passengers. Last year, some passengers even end up failing to get transport to travel to their various destinations,” said Munhenzva bus terminal staff Titus Chigudu.
Rank marshals were seated in empty buses while the rank did not see many people.
“In recent years some passengers would come and beg us to take them to their home areas even insisting to pay more than the normal fares,” said an Intercape bus driver.
“This is the time of the year we usually make more money but now we cannot even increase the fares!” he lamented.
Bus operators attributed the low business to the cash shortages the country is facing at the moment.
“People do not have cash to spend let alone travel to rural areas. We are running at a loss because buses are only full when departing from Harare and empty on the return trip,” said bus owner Regis Munhenzva of Munhenzva Transport.
Another bus driver Cleopas Muchuta said the situation had been exacerbated by increased police roadblocks that operators have to pay off to proceed with their trips. “Between Harare and Chinhoyi there are about 10 roadblocks so we end up paying then a cut to proceed even if the bus is roadworthy,” he said adding that bus operators pay at least 10 USD at each roadblock.
Travellers interviewed also said there was no pressure to get a seat and that they were guaranteed to get transport at any time of the day.
Tags: Destination News