Maputo — Agreement has been reached on increasing the fares charged by the operators of private minibuses (known colloquially as “chapas”) that provide much of the passenger transport in the greater Maputo area.
According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the daily paper “Noticias”, a meeting on Monday between representatives of the central government, of the Maputo and Matola municipal councils, and of the Mozambican Road Transport Federation (FEMATRO) agreed that a fare rise could correct what was coyly referred to as “errors of management”.
But the paper's sources did not reveal how much the proposed rise will be, or when it will take effect. These key details will only be made public after a memorandum of understanding has been signed, and the proposal is laid before the Council of Ministers (Cabinet). Presumably that will be at the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers on Tuesday.
Currently the fares are fixed at seven meticais (10.6 US cents) for distances of up to ten kilometers, and nine meticais for distances longer than 10 kilometres.
The chapas receive a subsidy for the diesel they use. Its price is fixed at 31 meticais per litre - although the price to the general public at filling stations is currently 51.89 meticais a litre. The government is supposed to pay the difference.
But the chapa owners complain that the fuel subsidy is not enough, since their other costs (for tyres and other spare parts, maintenance, and wages of their staff, for instance) have continued to rise.
Castigo Nhamane, the chairperson of FEMATRO, cited by “Noticias”, warns that some operators have just given up, pulling their vehicles off the roads.
He claimed “the new tariffs will minimize costs for the transporters, since a series of other measures will take effect at the same time”. He gave no details of these “other measures”.