Holiday bus fares back in spotlight

29 November 2017 | Infrastructure

It's that time of the year again when long-distance bus operators increase their fares in a bid to maximise profits during the festive season.

Although authorities, including various bus associations have attempted to put an end to what has been termed as the 'ripping off' of commuters, the trend remains.

Throughout the year bus drivers charge commuters N$250 for a trip from Oshakati to Windhoek, however, during the festive season, the same trip will cost up to N$350.

The bus drivers say their price hike is justified because commuters travel from the various urban centres to the north and not the other way around. They argue their price hike covers their fuel when they go to these places to collect the commuters.

In an interview with Ewi lyaNooli, Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) deputy president Jeffrey Platt shared his sentiments over the issue and what he thinks should be done going forward.

Platt said as an association they have always been disturbed by the matter following complaints by commuters.

“These drivers know that people are desperate to travel during the festive season and they take advantage of this. People are left with no option but to pay or else they won't travel. This is wrong and Nabta has always condemned it,” Platt said.

In December 2014 Nabta released a guide which aimed to regulate taxi and bus tariffs to prevent commuters from being overcharged.

Platt said the purpose of the guide is to put an end to the exploitation as the fare for each route is stipulated.

He also spoke about the trip log sheet which should be completed by every bus driver before departing from a bus terminal or any loading centre.

He, however, pointed out only some bus drivers comply with the stipulated tariffs while many do not.

“We created the guide and the trip log sheet to prevent overcharging but it appears to have made no difference,” Platt said.

Platt urged commuters to report bus drivers who overcharge to the nearest police station or the association.

“They should take down the registration number of the bus and report it to the police at the road blocks. The police will then ask the driver to refund the customers.”



DRIVE SAFELY

Platt also spoke on road safety.

“You see, these people are out to maximise the number of journeys they do so they drive both during the day and night. They get tired and often, this leads to accidents. Driving at night is risky,” Platt said.

The association also urges drivers to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy.

Regarding driver's behaviour, he said that all road users should adhere to the rules of the road to prevent accidents.

Accidents are the fifth cause of loss of life in the country following HIV and Aids, diarrhoea, tuberculosis and pneumonia.

The Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund recently reported that more than 650 people died on our roads between January and 19 November this year in 3 514 accidents.



KENYA KAMBOWE

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