Thousands of long distance travelers and urban commuters in Zimbabwe are stranded in most cities following bus fare increases of up to 68 percent and a police crackdown on unregistered local omnibuses.
Commuters told Studio 7 many travelers unable to reach rural homes for the festive season have gotten stuck at Mbare-Musika in Harare, Renkini Bus Terminus in Bulawayo and other long distance bus terminals.
Harare-Mutare travelers are now being charged US$10 instead of US$6 for the trip while those going from Harare to Bulawayo are expected to pay US$20 – an US$8 fare increase.
Commuters in Harare and Bulawayo, meanwhile, said they are facing similar transport difficulties worsened by a police crackdown on unregistered omnibuses.
They said police are not allowing unregistered kombis to enter the central business districts of the two cities, forcing passengers to walk long distances. Registered omnibus operators have taken advantage of the chaos to increase fares from US$1 to US$2 a trip.
Stranded traveler Mmeli Dube said conditions are turbulent in Bulawayo. "We are facing serious transport problems here as police are impounding large numbers of kombis," he said.
Police Superintendent Andrew Phiri said the blitz will continue to reduce road carnage this festive season.
Social commentator Liberty Bhebhe notes that although the police crackdown is supposedly intended to get rid of unregistered commuter omnibuses, some policemen are set to make huge sums of money by soliciting bribes from bus operators and poor motorists.
Meanwhile, our correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reports that homeless Zimbabwean refugees and immigrants sheltered at Johannesburg’s Central Methodist Church spent Unity Day commemorating what they called a black christmas to highlight the severe poverty they are experiencing when many other people worldwide are celebrating this festive season.