Katima Mulilo-Residents of Impalila Island in the Zambezi have voiced their grievances regarding the hefty transport fare they have to fork out whenever they travel to the region’s capital Katima Mulilo.
Given the fact there is no road network connecting Impalila Island to Katima Mulilo residents have to travel via the Kasane border, and board a bus from Kasane to Katima Mulilo.
Previously they were charged N$70 for a one-way trip to Katima Mulilo, but as of last week the fare increased to N$100, which has left commuters frustrated.
“It is not acceptable that now we have to pay N$100 when we have to travel to Katima – it is simply too much,” complained a commuter who chose to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised.
The source added there is no mode of transport other than the current one. He further said that initially when the regional council’s Kapelwa Kabajani ferry was introduced it was meant to transport residents from the island but that never happened as the proposed fares for the ferry were exorbitant.
This resulted in the ferry being rendered a white elephant after it was procured by government at a great cost from neighbouring Botswana and it is now just rusting unused on the Zambezi River.
“We cannot travel by water because there are no boats to transport people; maybe in the future it will be introduced. When it was rumoured to be introduced the proposed fare was way too much compared to the road transport,” said the source.
Contacted for comment one of the mini-bus operators Mubita Sikumba stressed they were forced to incease their fares after cross-border charges were adjusted.
“We have been charging commuters only N$70 from 2004 up until now – that is a long time. Fuel prices have been going up but we never increased the fare. We were recently forced to increase because the revenue office of Botswana increased their charges,” he said.
Sikumba is also of the opinion the transport fare is even less compared to what other bus operators charge. From Kasane to Katima Mulilo is about 120 kilometres and Sikumba believes charging N$70 is operating on a loss.
“People should consider the fact that we are driving in a foreign country, where our safety is also at risk. How many kilometres is it from Windhoek to Okahandja and how much are they charging? I think our charges are reasonable, and they have never changed over the years,” he added.
New Era could not get a comment from the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association representative in Katima Mulilo, Abel Mubu, as his mobile phone went unanswered.