First the bad news for local commuters: Bus fares may this week be hiked by three Thebe per kilometer. Then the worse news: There may not be any public transport buses to board after the long weekend.
The Botswana Bus Operators Association last week sent a letter to the Office of The president and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport announcing their decisions to down keys next week Wednesday if bus fares are not increased.
The bus association is requesting a 0.03 thebe per kilometer increase to the existing P0.1358 to make it P0.1635 following the rapid and steep increases in the price of diesel.
The association made another request that fares should be increased immediately after every two increases in the price of fuel.
The Botswana Bus Association (BBA) Chairman, Tirafalo Mponang told Sunday Standard that the recent 20% across the board fare hike did not take into consideration disparities in increases of petrol and diesel.
The association further points out that government only factored in petrol increases up to 15th April when making the 20% fare hike.
The chairman further told Sunday Standard that while awaiting response for their letter of 11th June 2008, they sent a delegation to the Minister of Works and Transport on 20th June. The minister, however, sent them back to prepare a written proposal motivating the fare increase.
The association prepared a proposal and submitted it with the minister on the same day. The Minister then promised to table it at a Cabinet meeting. Cabinet sits on Wednesdays.
When the association did not receive any feed back from the minister, it convened another meeting to chart the next course of action.
“Some people might argue that we were too fast to take action, but unfortunately this is suffocating our businesses and we can not survive long enough to go from one door at the government enclave to the next. We do not have the time. This is an emergency,├« said Mponang.
The meeting reached a unanimous decision that should government fail to increase fares, buses will be parked on the morning of Wednesday 2nd June 2008, and commuters coming from long holidays would find themselves stranded at bus stations.