Kombi operators threaten to hike fares

HARARE - Kombi operators have warned they will hike fares if government forges ahead with plans to introduce urban tollgates.

This comes after Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere on Monday said plans were at an advanced stage to erect the urban plazas soon.

“Unless they exempt public transporters like South Africa has done, we cannot absorb anymore costs,” Greater Harare Commuter Operators Association (Ghaco) secretary-general Ngoni Katsvairo said yesterday.

“Because of the bond notes issue, there are now two prices for spare parts, one for bond notes and one for US dollars.

“Tyres have also gone up from $70 to $130 since the introduction of bond notes. Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 — which is meant to protect Dunlop who are importing tyres from Dunlop South Africa rather than making them here — is not reducing the prices.”

He argued that motorists were already overburdened with road tax and highway toll fees at a time road rehabilitation has remained elusive.

Addressing local councils and engineers this week, Kasukuwere said the introduction of urban tollgates will resolve the issue of the dilapidated roads.

“We have started to work on urban tollgates,” Kasukuwere said.

“We are meeting with stakeholders beginning today . . . we are moving to secure funding.  These tollgates will help fund-raise for cities’ roads rehabilitation programmes. You pay your $0,50 and the roads also get fixed. The cities roads are a disaster. We are not going back.”

Urban tollgates are facing resistance. Ratepayers have said government must first account for money the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) collected from vehicle licences and ensure transparency in its use before introducing urban tollgates.

Government in 2010 took over management of vehicle licence fees and gave Zinara the mandate to administer the funds.

However, the parastatal has been accused of mismanaging the money and starving local authorities of their statutory allocations.

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