FRANCISTOWN: The Ministry of Transport and Communication’s decision to increase taxi and bus fares has triggered public disapproval with calls that the hike is uncalled for during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The revised public transport passenger fares regulations published in the Government Gazette on August 24,2020 indicate that shared taxi per passenger per trip would be P6 with effect from September 1.
The government notice further said that mini-bus local transport would be P5 per trip and long distance (bitumen road) would be P30 per km.
Mmegi went to the streets of Francistown to get the people’s reactions to the public transport fare hike.
A street manicure business owner Segolame Patiko, 28 said that it was sad for the government to have taken the decision to increase bus and taxi fares amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that currently business was very slow and itwas even going to get tougher with the increased bus and taxi fares. Patiko revealed that since the COVID-19 outbreak, her business had not been in good shape.
She further said: “A day could pass by without her receiving a single customer unlike in the past where I could get close to 10 customers in a day.”
She pleaded with the government to reverse its decision until the situation has fully recovered.
The Maitengwe-born beautician said that she stayed in neighbouring Chadibe, and before the bus fare hike they paid P9 per trip to here (Francistown) but now the fares has increased to P10 per trip.
Patiko added: “I also used to pay P250 per month for my daughter’s transport fee, which means end of this month I will be expected to pay P330.
This is just a distressing issue and I don’t know what is going to happen next.” She was worried that most of her customers were already hit hard by COVID-19 as some have lost their jobs, which meant that she would get fewer customers and end up running her business at a loss.
Herbal Life products Distributor, Helen Mosweu, also 28, said that government should just suspend the taxi and bus fare hike due to the people’s economic status.
Mosweu said that public transport fare increment does not make sense because people’s pockets were hard hit by COVID-19 pandemic, one
She said that she stays in Kazungula and she would be forced to pay P150 for a long distance bus trip as from Tuesday rather than paying the usual P135 per trip from here (Francistown) to Kazungula.
She said that the bus and taxi fares increase were just a slap in the face looking at the current cost of living in the tourism village and financial crisis faced by lots of Batswana.
Mosweu stated that the issue of transport has always been a burning issue for people residing in Kazungula but working in Kasane.
She added: “ I will be spending close to P60 per day for transport because I am forced to use special (per trip to Kasane) because I can’t even consider walking due to the wildlife in the area.”
She further said that she was also doomed as she would now have limited visitation trips to her family residing both here (Francistown) and Makwate village. Mosweu was worried that that as a mother of two, it was going to get harder for her to provide for her children with basic needs.
She appealed to the government to have mercy on them and reverse the decision on the taxi and bus fares increase. Ghetto Kasi Lama collection brand owner Nsiiwa Ncenga shared the same sentiments with Patiko and Mosweu.
The 30-year-old entrepreneur said that the bus and taxi fare increment was unnecessary looking at the current economic and unemployment crisis in the country.
He said that government should consider the cost of living, which was expensive and very unfavourable to most Batswana.
He said that at the moment, small businesses were not doing well in the market due to lack of capital.
Ncenga said that the government needed to rethink its decision, as it would impoverish Batswana who were trying hard with their meagre living wages.
He said that the private sector in general was in a bad shape because it has being extensively damaged by COVID-19 pandemic hence the need for a solid recovery plan for the sector.