By BENNIE MUNDANDO
TRAVELLERS must not allow any bus operator to charge them more than the fares reflecting in the interior of the buses which should not be more than 22 percent bus fare adjustment because this is what was agreed by all stakeholders, the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) has said.
RTSA chief executive officers Zindaba Soko said the agency was aware that there were some operators in other jurisdictions who were in the habit of charging commuters more than the accepted fares but appealed to the commuters not to buckle under pressure to pay more.
He was speaking at the ongoing Central province Investment Forum and Expo yesterday, “We want to inform the nation that we have received reports that other operators in other jurisdictions and provinces have actually increased without following the approved 22 percent increase structure and therefore, no commuter should be forced to pay a bus fare other than the bus fares that are stuck in the interiors of the buses.
“A commuter should dispute any increases that are not stipulated on that chart by the various bus associations. As RTSA, we are trying to ensure that this particular fare adjustment has a permanent policy and looking at what factors are not supposed to be used as justification for exploiting the public,” Mr. Soko said.
He said the process of arriving at the current bus fares was an extensive and consultative one as all associations in the sector were engaged and formed part of the decision-making forum which agreed upon the 22 percent adjustment.
“RTSA, as underpinned in the Road Traffic Acts No. 11 of 2002 under section 100, we are mandated to authorise any adjustment or variation to the operators’ road service licences. You may wish to note that the associations in their various disciplines proposed an increase of 30 percent and as fares for both short and long distance routes but this was prohibitive.
“In their submissions, they said the increment was due to fuel prices that had been adjusted upwards and also the adjustment of the minimum wage. However, we moderated on this adjustment and in consultations with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, we made sure that as much as the adjustment was inevitable by bus operators, there was need that we don’t injure the commuters and the general transport business,” Mr. Soko said.
He said Zambia’s economy was driven by the transport sector which in turn drove all other sectors hence the need not to injure customers.
“We sat down again with the ministry to try and see to what percentage we would adjust downwards and this came to 22 percent, the position that was agreed upon among the ministry, RTSA, and various bus operators, and driver associations that always form the bargaining unit to discuss bus fares,” he said.