BUSES WILL NOT CHARGE GAZETTED FARES

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BUSES WILL NOT CHARGE GAZETTED FARES
BUSES WILL NOT CHARGE GAZETTED FARES

Africa-Press – Eswatini. Bus owners have resolved not to charge the gazetted maximum fares.
This was a unanimous resolution taken by the bus owners from all four regions during their meeting that was held at the Swazi Commercial Amadoda Centre yesterday.

The agenda of the meeting, according to the Swazi Commercial Amadoda Bus Owners Association’s Chairperson Duma Msibi, was for the owners to decide on whether or not to increase bus fares. Noteworthy is that buses had maintained the old fares even after kombis started charging customers the hiked fares since last Friday.

Before yesterday’s meeting, Msibi said the executives of the regional associations had deliberated on the fares subject, but have failed to reach consensus due to differing suggestions. He said there were those who suggested that bus owners should not charge the hiked fares because there was unfair competition from kombis.

Meanwhile, there were those who suggested that the new gazetted fares should be charged until the public’s reaction was determined, while on the other hand, there were owners who vowed not to charged their customers more than what they charge now until buses and kombi owners meet and iron out their differences so that they could work well together.

Yesterday, the bus owners in attendance conceded that they were broke and that they so much need to hike fares so that they could be able to pay off bank loans, maintain vehicles, as well as make profits.

Profits

However, they mentioned that for a while, bus owners had not been making any profits, and as such they have been broke more so due to the increased fuel hike, among other things.
Currently, they said a bus uses up to E4 000 on fuel per day, leaving them with too little money to cash on a daily basis.

Therefore, they said the new gazetted fares are an answer to their prolonged financial challenges.

However, the bus owners said due to what they termed ‘unfair competition’ from kombis, they were forced to retain their customers by charging a little more than they were charging now.

There was another suggestion that buses should also charge the new gazetted fares for a while until the public’s reaction is determined, but there were objections to the effect that if customers are charged the same in buses and in kombis, the former might lose a lot of customers and it could take a while before they could win them back, so the suggestion was thrown out.

Route

The final unanimous decision by the bus owners was that they will hike fares after they had decided on how much they should charge per route. The new fares that will be agreed on by the owners will be effected from May 1, 2022 after customers had been notified through notices that will be available on the vehicles.

“We must not charge the maximum bus fares, but a little more than what we charge now just to cushion ourselves,” submitted one bus owner much to the agreement of other attendants.
The new gazette states that public transport servicing up to eight kilometres is to charge a maximum of E10 while those that are between eight and less than 50km are to charge E30.50.

The maximum fare to be charged by public transport servicing an excess of 50km is E77.

‘We are threatened for not charging new fares’

Some bus owners have revealed that their competitors have threatened to burn their vehicles for not charging new fares.

The owners said since kombis started charging customers the new fares even before the gazette was issued, they were forced to either conform to the new fares or have their vehicles ‘burnt’. For this threat, the owners said their lives and businesses were challenged in addition to the existing issues caused by the unfair competition by their competitors.

This happens when kombi operators staged unlawful checkpoints in various bus stations last week, where they questioned public transport users if they had paid the old or new fares. When some transport operators were found to have charged the customers the old fares, they were attacked and forced to park their vehicles.

This was during the time when the gazette was not issued and charging the new fares was deemed to be daylight robbery on commuters by government.

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