In Zimbabwe's city, Mutare, residents are shunning
regular commuter operators and using other forms of transport – like open
lorries – saying buses are simply too expensive. Trucks usually travel to the
city center daily to hire laborers. Now, however, drivers say their business
has picked up dramatically since they began ferrying residents to and from
work. Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Loirdham Moyo says
charge anything from $ 500,000 Zimbabwe dollars (about $12.00 US) for a one-way trip.
That's the maximum amount individuals are allowed to withdraw from banks daily.
Consumers say if they pay that much for transport, they've nothing left to feed
But a few innovative locals have found a way around
the transport nightmare; they're hitching rides with lorry- and truck drivers
who charge half of what operators want.
Brighton Chichakara says he's more than comfortable
using other forms of transport. However he says when it rains he won't be able
to jump onto the back of an open lorry; then he'll have to hitch a ride in a
"The trucks are a dependable and cheap way of going
and back from town. At the banks we get $500, 000 and operators charge that
same amount meaning that one will have no other means of getting back to work
if they rely on withdrawals from the bank. It is only sad now that the rains
are imminent that we are forced to go for them."
Another commuter Silvia Sithole says the trucks
give consumers much-needed relief. She explains when one makes a trip to the
city, returning is a problem because it costs too much.
"We are finding it hard to travel daily into town
and back on the $500,000 we withdraw which ends up paying for one trip. Life is
now hard and the trucks are a welcome development to most of us."
Chikanga resident Farai Mudzinge
says truckers' presence has eased many commuters' financial burdens.
"Many of us are using trucks to get
to work and back. We pray they continue serving us as commuter operators are
now bent on hiking fares as they please forgetting we only get money enough to
cater for one way trip by their current charges."
A truck driver, who identified himself only as
Peter, explains he waits in the hope of being hired for a quick day job. But on
his way to the city center he's begun transporting commuters… and doing a
roaring trade. He says it's extra cash for him as he has to travel to town
regardless of whether he's transporting people or not. Peter explains his truck is
usually hired to ferry cement, poles and other building materials.
But commuter omnibus operator Edward Pasipamire, of
Dangamvura, complains of losing business to truckers. He says he currently
earns fewer trips than previously. Edward says he makes as little as 10-million
daily, which is less than half of what he usually nets.
Commuter fares have been going up twice a week, on
Mondays and Thursdays.