Wallace Ruzvidzo and Yeukai Tazira
THE ever-increasing fares of buses servicing long haul routes has resulted in passengers resorting to rail transport as it is more convenient and affordable. The Herald visited the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) Harare station yesterday and witnessed scores of travellers queueing to purchase tickets to various destinations.
The Herald established that commuters are now opting for trains rather than buses and kombis as they are cheaper and safer. Long-distance public transport is now beyond the reach of many and travellers, especially those travelling to Mutare, are now devoting most of their time to queueing at the NRZ Harare offices for either bookings or waiting for the next available train.
NRZ is charging $40 for the sleeper class to and from Mutare. The standard class is going for $30 while the economy class is charging $25, compared to other public transport forms which are charging between $75 and $85 for the same distance in cash or $100 via EcoCash.
Bulawayo-Harare and Bulawayo-Victoria Falls fares are $60 for the sleeper class, $50 for the standard class and $40 for the economy class. Road public transporters are charging between $100 and $115 in cash while the EcoCash charge is now at $150 for the Harare-Bulawayo route.
The Harare-Mutare route is now the busiest due to the high number of cross-border traders who take advantage of Mutare’s proximity to Mozambique. The Herald survey showed that this week the train to Mutare was carrying 1 000-1 500 passengers per day.
Steven Damster, a passenger queueing to buy a ticket said: “This is actually my first time to board a train, I decided to purchase a ticket since it is way cheaper than buses.”
“I now prefer using trains than buses because the money they are demanding at the terminus is too much, I cannot afford it,” said another passenger, James Daka.
NRZ Public Relations Manager, Mr Nyasha Maravanyika, said they are doing everything in their power to respond to community demands as more people continue to opt for trains.