BUSES and Taxi Drivers Association of Zambia National Secretary Sydney Mbewe says he does not anticipate any reduction in bus fares following the recent fuel price review.
On Saturday last week, the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) reduced fuel pump prices by K2.35 per litre for petrol, K0.58 per litre for diesel and K0.56 per litre for kerosene.
But in an interview, Sunday, Mbewe said the revised fuel pump prices were not reduced by a margin which could trigger a downward adjustment in bus fares.
“I was saying the trend since the system of monthly adjustment was put in place by the government through the Energy Regulation Board has been that fuel increment has steadily been going upwards rather than downwards. What happens is that there is an increment like in the last price review (March) of K4 and some ngwee’s on top. Now this review has gone down by K2 meaning that the last price which was increased by the government through ERB has gone up by a K2. So in essence, it means the fare prices that were negotiated for still remain with that operational cost attached to it. So it means that the government has not reduced by a margin that can trigger a downward adjustment fare for buses,” he said.
“So we do not see a reduction in bus fares. But I think we will continue seeing an upward swing of fares because the trend of increment of fuel has been on the upward trend. So even if the government reduces in that monthly review, let us look at what was increased last time. Is it more than what has been reduced. If it is more, then it means the fuel price still remains high. So we do not see what triggers for a downward trend of bus fares and this should be a worry for us in the transport sector.”
He said since government embarked on monthly fuel price reviews, travel demands had reduced.
“Steadily, we have been witnessing that the travel demand of a certain class of citizens in the country has been off the grid. We are now seeing that people are beginning to walk to either work places or even to school. Now that is a danger to us because it means that the transport sector is also going down, it is dying steadily. So I think we need an approach by the government that is going to make sure that the transport sector is protected by providing certain incentives that will ensure that the cost of bus fares will not go up when prices of fuel go up,” said Mbewe.