SANDRA MACHIMA writes

COMMUTERS in Chipata’s Eastern province have turned to motorbikes and bicycles as means of cheap transport, to buses and taxis in a wake of fuel adjustments that were announced few weeks ago.

A check by the Daily Nation at Kapata area in Chipata district revealed that it cost K5 to using a bicycle, while a K10 using a motorbike to reach the town, as opposed to using a taxi that was pegged between K30 to K35.

John Phiri, a taxi driver at Kapata, said commuters still wanted to pay the old amount of K15, but that it impossible because of the high cost of fuel. Mr Phiri said commuters were instead opting for motorbikes and bicycles making it difficult for taxis to compete.

“Petrol yadula (expensive), and we are losing customers every day because they still want us to charge the old fare, which means we are at a loss, so people are now leaving taxis opting for motorbikes and bicycles,” he said.

Another motorbike driver Leonard Ngoma said using a motorcycle was a better option because it was cheaper and faster. He said he was able to make more than five trips per day, transporting passengers, and that many people were now commuting by motorbike as the best option.

“We decided to start using motorbikes and means of transporting people because it was easier and quicker in the wake of the fuel hike.

We are charging people in the range of K10-K15 per trip and people are able to give us business. Business maybe be a challenge, but we are not complaining much,” he said.

It is hard to escape the prospect of using public transport when living in a busy city but riding independently makes commuting time shorter because we even navigate through traffic easily, quickly using alternative routes,” he said. Meanwhile a bicycle transporter, Nelly Tembo said he and other cyclists were not affected by the fuel hike saying the situation was in fact working to their advantage as most commuters in the city were using bicycles as means of transport. Cycling as a mode of transport is cheaper and offered healthy and environmental benefits for the cities that promote it.

He said other towns and cities at large could emulate the scenario in Chipata where residents were using bicycles and motorbikes as an alternative cheaper mode of transport instead of depending on taxis and buses.

And Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST) board chairman Daniel Mwamba noted of higher fuel prices resulted in fewer traffic accidents because people were forced to shift to cheaper travel modes that were not just safe but affordable.

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