The price of passenger transport between Mozambique and South Africa, one of the largest African economies, will rise from August 1, but for those who make the journey regularly the increase is justified in view of the vertiginous inflation.
“The increase will affect my bills, but they [the transporters] are right, there is no money. Everything has gone up in Mozambique, except wages,” Rosta Massingue, a Mozambican who has been making the trip for more than 20 years to visit her family who live in the land of the “rand”, as South Africa is popularly described among Mozambicans, tells Lusa.
Sitting on a bus bound for Rustenburg, in the downtown Maputo terminal, Rosta Massingue does the sums, which never add up, and laments the increase in prices.
She began traveling in 2001, when transport cost 180 rands (11 euros), and today, having to pay 500 rands (about 30 euros), she is considering reducing her visits to her family.
With the rise in fuel prices in Mozambique and also in South Africa, the situation has become “heavier” and “suffocating” for the transporters, forcing them to raise 50 rand (three euros) in the cost of the trips, explains Francisco Mandlate, secretary of Mozambique, South Africa Transport Associates (Mosata).
“We tried to resist [the price rise with global inflation] for a while. But we were suffocated, so we had to increase the fare a bit,” he says.
The trip from Maputo to Rustenburg went up from 450 rand (27 euros) to 500 rand, while from the Mozambican capital to Durban went up from 400 rand (24 euros) to 450 rand (27 euros).
On the other hand, traveling from Maputo to Johannesburg increases from 350 rands (21 euros) to 400 rands (24 euros) and from the Mozambican capital to Nelspruit there is an increase of 30 rands (two euros), going from 200 rands (12 euros) to 230 rands (14 euros).
According to Mosata, which also makes trips to the Essuatíni kingdom (formerly Swaziland), revenues have “dropped dramatically,” which is aggravated by the fact that they cross borders and move in countries with different prices.
“The increase should have been 100% for us to return to the normal routine of earnings,” argues Marcos Abilio, a driver who makes the route Maputo – Rustenburg, noting that even the new table “will not offset” the costs of travel.
Before the rise in fuel prices in Mozambique, Marcos spent about 2,500 rand (149 euros) to make a trip, but with the steep rise in prices, he now spends almost double, i.e., just to go to Rustenburg the driver needs about 4,200 rand (250 euros).
“The person who drives has to be paid, we also have to pay for the fuel, the oil, and many other things,” says Marcos Abilio.
“They have increased the price of transportation a little, but for the lack of money, it seems like a lot,” says Violeta Tamele, 47, as she and two other women walk to stores in downtown Maputo to buy capulanas to sell in South Africa.
Violeta and her two companions make three trips a month to sell capulanas in Komatipoort, South Africa, and even though there has not yet been a fare increase on their route, they can already foresee the “chaos” that will be in their accounts.
“It’s going to be difficult. The situation will affect my accounts and I will have to reduce trips,” laments Zaveta António, who has been making trips for 12 years to sell the capulanas.
Despite the reduction in revenue due to the rise in fuel prices in Mozambique, the transporters have maintained the price of trips to Essuatíni to “save the passenger who still has to pay for the covid-19 test” in that country.
The new international transport table comes after the July 4 shutdowns, when owners of buses and ‘chapas’, light vehicles improvised as collective urban transport in Mozambique, pulled over their vehicles in protest against the increase in fuel prices, causing long lines and confusion in some areas of the Mozambican capital.
Gasoline rose from 83.30 meticais (1.24 euros) per liter to 86.97 meticais (1.30 euros) and diesel went from 78.97 meticais (1.18 euros) to 87.97 meticais (1.32 euros) per liter.
In 2008 and 2010, the increase in the price of road transport, accompanied by the rising cost of essential goods and services, led to popular uprisings in some of the country’s major cities, resulting in clashes with the police and destruction in some places.