The New Heritage Party has expressed dismay over the prohibitively high cost of transportation affecting the majority commuters from the low-income sector in the country.
The New Heritage Party President Chishala Kateka said that her party is reminding the government that the transportation industry is one of the most unpoliced sectors in the country which leaves all the players to do whatever they deem fit to make profits from the poor commuters.
Ms Kateka added that among the combination of monetary burdens that bus drivers bear consist of cost factors that go into the makeup of the bus fares and which are all ultimately borne by the commuters.
“And these are, corrupt police, call boys, bus drivers, profiteering Driver’s Association levy, ZRA, Lusaka City Council and the bus owners,” Ms Kateka added
She noted that the Party feels all these players need to be regulated by the Authorities to protect the poor commuters who are bearing the brunt in the dog-eat-dog transportation sector.
Ms Kateka stated that it is the bus drivers themselves as well as the ordinary people who use public transport, whether they be employed in the formal or informal sector, they should not have to bear any further monetary burdens since they are already over-taxed either directly or indirectly.
“The burden is too much to bear for ordinary Zambians,” Ms Kateka stated
She cited that being a Party that values the lives of common Zambians, they have traced the problem of increased bus fares and it is not only resulting from high fuel prices even though that too is a factor, but it is all hinged on greed, insensitivity, incompetence by an elitist government dominated by the ‘Apamwambas’ (upper-class) who drive posh cars and are far divorced from feeling the pinch of high transport costs that the masses endure on a daily basis as they move to and from the city center to earn a living.
Ms Kateka mentioned that the New Dawn administration needs to address this issue urgently because, from the observation, as a Party they have noted that there is already a new crop of UPND cadres who, though not visible like their predecessors, who have targeted this cash cow together with the running of markets to gain financial benefit.
“This is a fact that was admitted to by the Bus Owners representative when he appeared recently on a radio talk show alongside the NGO that represents commuters,” Ms Kateka added
She alluded that in short, the atrocities that were committed by Patriotic Front cadres at markets and bus stops have continued, and the only difference is that the new political thugs are operating clandestinely and many are not even wearing the red party regalia but in suits purchased from their ill-gotten money which they are extorting from the poor bus drivers.
Ms Kateka has since called on the Government to intervene and bring down the high cost of bus fares by putting a stop to this white collar caderism, criminal extortion by their agents and stamp out the systematic corruption of the Traffic Police as these increase the cost of doing business in this sector.
“We cannot continue to have a situation where the majority poor is subsiding the lavish lifestyle and the greed driven consumption of the rich few through high bus fares,” she said
Ms Kateka highlighted that the fares that range from K15 to K18 on many routes are unaffordable by many commuters who operate in the city and failure to address this is going to be clear evidence of the insensitivity to the plight of the poor of this New Dawn Government.