Bus operators in Ndola District on the Copperbelt have fought running battles with police after they protested over the recently reduced bus fares as announced by the Road Transport and Safety Agency.
The aggrieved bus operators who have since downed tools blocked traffic at Mulungushi and Chisokone bus stations to stop any bus from leaving the stations while buses between Kitwe and Luanshya are also not loading in protest of the K7 downward adjustment on inter-mine/peri-urban routes.
Following the recent reduction of fuel pump prices by the energy regulation board which has resulted in the reduction of bus fares between K5 and K7, the bus operators are not happy with this move and are proposing a reduction of about K2.50 unlike a K5 which they say is too high.
The operators later become unruly after Transport and Logistics Minister Frank Tayali tried to address them and started throwing stones.
And those talked to by Phoenix News are demanding that authorities allow them to maintain the current fares or have the recently announced fared reduced by a minimal amount.
And Transport Minister Frank Tayali said he has noted the concerns of the bus operators which he says will be addressed.
Road Transport and Safety Agency Head-Public Relations Fredrick Mubanga says the recently announced bus fares still stand but has disclosed that the agency will engage the operators this afternoon on the forward over the bus fares.
Earlier, Bus operators defied the recent reduction in bus fares and have continued implementing the old bus fares saying the new fares are not in the best interest of their business.
A check by Phoenix News at various bus stations in Lusaka has revealed that passengers are still paying the old fares as bus operators are rejecting any amount that reflects the newly approved fares.
Some bus operators have wondered how bus fares have been reduced by an excessive K5 which is not profitable on their part when fuel pump prices were reduced by about K3.
The operators have complained that the bus fares announced by the road transport and safety agency and the current fuel prices are not in harmony as reducing fares will be loss making on their part and have since appealed to relevant authorities to reconsider the revised fares.
Meanwhile some commuters talked to have confirmed that they are still paying the old fares, and are calling on the authorities to quickly deal with the matter and strike a balance if possible for them to enjoy the benefits of reduced fuel prices.
Yesterday, Transport and Logistics Minister Frank Tayali said the revised bus fares are non-negotiable and called on relevant institutions to deal with those refusing to implement the new bus fares.
The Road Transport and Safety Agency has announced a reduction in bus fares owing to the drop in fuel pump prices, with intercity long distance reducing by 14 percent, copperbelt local and other towns reduced by K5, Lusaka local and other towns reduced by K5, while inter-mine and peri-urban saw a reduction of K7.