GOVERNMENT says the proposed hike of bus fares by KR1 is an act of sabotage by some bus operators who want to “paint a bad picture” of the authorities.
Transport, Communications, Works and Supply Deputy Minister Mwimba Malama said the proposed hike would be the highest in the recent past.
“When did we ever see an increase of KR1 (K1,000) in bus fares? This is totally unacceptable,” he said in Lusaka yesterday. However, a prominent bus operator in Lusaka, Ishmail Khankara, said in Lusaka that the hike in bus fares will remain on hold until bus operators hold a meeting with Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) this afternoon.
Mr Malama said no one is against a fare hike following the increase in fuel prices but operators should first dialogue with Government before effecting the new fares.
He said the bus operators should follow procedure.
Mr Malama advised operators taking advantage of the increase in fuel prices to demand exorbitant bus fares to stop it.
“Bus operators should work closely with the authorities to make such decisions. Bus operators should be careful because Government is aware that some of them are trying to tarnish Government’s image,” he said.
RTSA says the recent pronouncement by local bus operators that they have increased fares by KR1 in Lusaka and on the Copperbelt is null and void.
Bus operators in Lusaka have threatened to ground their buses today if RTSA denies them permission to increase fares.
Mr Malama said the removal of fuel subsidies which led to the fuel price hike should not be misinterpreted but rather be understood to be beneficial to the social sector.
He said the removal of the subsidies will enhance development as resources will be channelled to education, health and infrastructure development.
The price of diesel was on Tuesday adjusted by KR1.63 per litre, petrol by KR1.75 per litre while kerosene has been adjusted by KR1.68 per litre. Petrol now costs KR9.91 and diesel KR9.2.