Commuters have criticized bus operators for the planned increase of fare charges which they say is too high for the public with high unemployment levels.
In a survey around the capital city, commuters complained that high bus fares would have a negative impact on the cost of living which is far beyond the average income of households.
They explained that high bus fares would directly affect household expenditure including budget allocation for food and basic services which will be trimmed to accommodate travelling costs.
“The operators should consider the cost of living including the average income of the workers when increasing bus fares, we know they need to adjust in line with government’s pronouncements of new fuel prices, but the prices are too high,” Hellen Mwamba explained.
She said getting into town from Avondale was now expected to cost KR5.50 from a previouse KR4.50 which was too much for the ordinary people.
And another commuter explained that although it was inevitable to increase bus fares after the recent fuel price increment, operators should adjust the fares by K0.50.
Mr. Phiri said he was concerned with the bus fare increase which have an effect on the cost of all other commodities as they all include a transport component.
“The operators should sit down with government to agree on a figure to add to the bus charges because making the adjustments as operators only would be based on profits instead of public convenience,” he said.
But Lusaka Bus Operators Committee chairperson Ishmael Kankara said the increment was necessitated by government’s announcement of an immediate fuel price increment by an average KR1.60 per liter.
Mr. Kankara said the operators followed the laid down procedures to arrive at the new fare charges which information was already relayed to the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) director’s office.
“The increment is necessitated by fuel price hikes. Government has increased fuel with immediate effect which means we need immediate adjustments in order to meet the increasing cost of doing business, our businesses run on fuel and any changes means we get affected,” he said.
He explained that according RTSA regulations, bus fare increments should be justified by such activities as fuel increments and the directors should be notified before such action is taken “which we have already done and I challenge anybody saying it is illegal to go to RTSA and protest.”
Government has condemned the planned increase which it has described as illegal as it was done without consultation.