By Kingston Ndabatei
HARARE: Hundreds of people were left stranded late Monday after a sudden shortage of fuel with public transport operators hiking fares.
Reports of people walking on foot to areas like Glen Norah and Mabvuku emerged as commuter omnibus operators took their vehicles to fuel queues.
“Fares have gone up. It would have been better if they hiked the fares while the transport is available to take us home,” said a Harare resident from Dzivarasekwa who spoke to New Zimbabwe.
A journey to Chitungwiza 30km south of Harare went up to $5 from $2 while most areas closer to the capital whose fares had gone down to $1 following the introduction of buses by government had the commuting public paying twice as much.
Reports indicated there was no fuel in Marondera 80km east of the capital and Bulawayo the country’s second largest city.
Even so, Transport Minister Jorum Gumbo was putting up a brave face.
“I have fuel in the country,” he said.
“If there are shortages it has to do with local companies failing to buy. It’s not my job to provide them with money.
“You could check with the Reserve Bank (of Zimbabwe) and find out whether they have provided the requisite funds.”
Zimbabwe’s perennial fuel problems have worsened since last year.
The situation turned into a security nightmare after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 150% price hike in January triggering violent protests organised by labour federation the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
Mnangagwa’s government deployed the military which used live ammunition leaving at least 17 unarmed protestors dead whole dozens more were left with wounds after the crackdown that followed.
Gumbo insists he has done his job making sure fuel is in the country but in bonded warehouses.
But foreign currency shortages continue to play havoc with supplies.