A TRANSPORT crisis on local routes is looming in Lusaka following the heightened feud between bus operators and the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) over proposed increase in fares.
Some bus operators have resolved to pack their buses if RTSA does not allow them to effect new fares tomorrow.
While bus operators have justified and attributed their proposal to up the fares by KR1 to the recent fuel price hike, the agency has declared the increase illegal and void.
“Whilst the agency appreciates requests from two operators – Capital Buses and representatives of a group of luxury buses to vary their current Road Service Licences (RSL) for adjustment of bus fares by May 6, 2013, it must be underscored that such a stipulated and concrete date for the desired increase can only be communicated after discussions have been held and concluded by all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Transport, Communications, Works and Supply.
She said the Agency has also received a request to vary the RSL in a bid to increase bus fares from intercity bus operators in which they are requesting to increase the fares by KR30 and that the request is being scrutinised by all parties concerned before a position can be communicated.
“Whilst the government sympathises with operators in relation to the effect the increase in fuel prices may have caused on their operations, the need to follow procedure is of paramount importance as a means of promoting road transport and safety.
“In this vain RTSA wishes to declare the bus fare increase illegal and void until the due process has been adhered to. Should any passengers be charged new fares before an agreement has been reached, they should not hesitate to call the Agency on 983 toll-free line,” she said.
But on Friday, Lusaka Capital Buses proprietor Ismail Kankhara said he and other bus operators in Lusaka feel it is inevitable to up the fares to meet operational costs.
Mr Kankhara said he and other operators have resolved to ground the buses if RTSA maintains its position on the proposed new fares.
He said there is no way operators can continue to run their business at a loss because apart from fuel, there are additional costs like maintenance of buses, payment of statutory obligations and the revised minimum wage. He warned that many jobs will be lost if he grounds his buses for good.