20 September 2017

Mozambique: Maputo Assembly Approves New Bus Fares

Maputo — The elected Maputo Municipal Assembly on Wednesday approved a proposal to raise urban passenger transport fares by 33 to 43 per cent.

For distances of up to 10 kilometres the fare will rise from the current seven meticais (11.5 US cents) to ten meticais, an increase of just under 43 per cent. For distances longer than 10 kilometres, the new fare will be 12 meticais, a 33 per cent increase on the current fare of nine meticais.

This replaces an earlier proposal for a much steeper rise - to 12 and 15 meticais for short and long journeys respectively. The Assembly stipulated that the new prices will only take effect once a consignment of new buses arrives in Maputo.

The last time fares rose - from five to seven meticais - was in 2012. To compensate the owners of the minibuses that provide much of the city's passenger transport (and are known as "chapas"), the government subsidized the diesel they used.

But the chapa owners have protested that the diesel subsidy is insufficient, because all their other costs - for tyres, spare parts, maintenance and labour - have continued to rise.

In the debate in the Assembly, the ruling Frelimo Party supported the fare rise, pointing out that several chapa owners have taken their vehicles off the streets, arguing that the business is no longer profitable.

The opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) opposed the rise, saying that higher fares "will increasingly suffocate Mozambican citizens".

A statement issued by the Maputo Municipal Council after the Assembly vote stressed that the new fares are not yet in force, and the Council will announce the date on which they take effect. The council warned against "opportunism", and urged the public to denounce any illicit behavior (such as charging the new fares before the Council's announcement).

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