Harare City Council and commuter omnibus operators plying routes between the capital and satellite towns are set for a collision course after the city raised rank fees by more than 900 percent. Council increased rank fees for kombis plying to and from surrounding towns like Marondera, Murehwa, Bindura, Chinhoyi, Mvurwi and Chegutu among others from $100 quarterly or $0,83 per day to $1 200 per quarter or $10 daily despite opposition from the operators. Commuter operators plying the affected routes yesterday downed their tools briefly in protest but decided to operate while engaging council.
Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (GHACO) secretary general Mr Ngoni Katsvairo expressed dismay with the new fees and said they will engage council over the issue. This is discriminatory and unfair administrative justice as local kombis should continue to pay $100 per term. Harare is the capital city of Zimbabwe. As highway operators, we transport passengers who fail to get accommodation in Harare and are commuting from satellite towns. Why would others pay $100 per term while others pay $1 200, when the facilities are the same, be it in town or Mbare? he quizzed. Mr Katsvairo warned that the move will only serve to promote Mushikashika activities in the city, which is already a major problem. A representative of GHACO in Marondera Mr Mpapa Baloyi said operators were against the rank fee hike and said fellow operators in Bulawayo had their fees slashed. The current economic situation cannot allow us as commuters to comply with the new fees.
We simply cannot afford it. Our counterparts in Bulawayo actually had their rank fees reduced. Why must we see increases on our side? We have been complaining all these years. We are willing to pay the previous fees. Conductors, drivers, mechanics and parts suppliers all live off these kombis, he said. Mr Dominic Chingombe a representative of GHACO in Mazowe and vice chairperson of the organisation said the new fees should not apply as the city s budget is still to be approved. The economic situation is unfavourable and yet they want to increase charges. We are used to paying $100 per term and we will stick to that position until we have been fully engaged as stakeholders, he said.
However, the city s acting corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said the fees were already operational in Mbare. Long distance kombi operators pay $10 while buses pay $15 a day. This has been operational in Mbare Musika, resulting in other operators deserting the rank in the hope that they would run away from paying those fees. Council saw it fit to levy the operators at new pick up and drop points, which are Show Ground, corner Second Street and Fife Avenue, 4th Street, Mbudzi and at all the other bus termini of roads leading to Harare, he said. Mr Chideme said the increase was a progressive move for council because it needs the money to provide proper facilities for the commuting public.