Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Transport operators demand fare hike

Botswana bus operators are proposing yet another public transport fare increase before the end of this year. 

The Association chairperson, Tirafalo Mponang, told The Telegraph hat this comes in the wake of increased fuel prices and high commodity prices. 

He said the Association is planning to meet member associates to craft a final proposal which will be submitted to government for consideration.

“Fuel prices have gone up quite many times plus increase on vat, so it has worsened the situation as all commodities associated with our industry prices have gone up.”

“Our member associates have been calling for a fare review because almost everything has gone up, we understand their concerns because there are genuine and need to be attended to,” said Mponang.

He indicated that their hope is to witness the implementation of the hike before September this year. 

“We are planning to engage on this review so that a decision is taken, we will not do any tools down until we have made proposal known” added Mponang. 

Although Mponang could not divulge the proposed percentage, the Association is keen to propose a 20% hike. 

Last year, public transport fares were hiked by 15% in September following another proposal that was submitted to government.

“When we do not submit a written proposal to government, nothing will be done, so we are working tirelessly around the issue so that the year does not end without this hike” said Mponang.

He further noted that transport operators have not recovered from Covid-19 shocks, adding that they are hopeful that government will grant them their wish. 

Recently, Long distance bus operators lamented that the Easter holiday travel restrictions hampered their daily operations and further impacted negatively on their businesses. 

Mponang said when imposing travel restrictions, government should consider giving them a grace period so that their staff can travel back to their bases.

He also shared that their hope that government will relax curfew times to 2200hrs.

“Currently we have encouraged our members to maximize on day time transport because government is still hesitant to liberate operating times,” said Mponang.

Meanwhile, Sunday Standard took to the streets of Gaborone to speak to commuters over the possibility of another hike. 

One commuter, Tefo Kgalemang, said although fuel prices have gone up, it will weigh heavily on them as public transport operators are now forced to hike transport fare.

“You would expect public transport operators to hike fares because they are also affected, they fuel up almost everyday but then again it is unfair because salaries are stagnant, no increment whatsoever,” said Kgalemang.

Another commuter, Kabelo Mogalakwe pleaded with public transport operators not to make extreme demands, saying that the financial pressure will pass on to them.

“Of course, these are difficult times. But at least both government and transport operators should be considerate to block this heavy burden on commuters. There is a reason behind most people riding public transport. It is for the simple reason that most people cannot afford to buy private cars,” said Kgalemang.

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