Maputo — The operators of the minibuses (known as “chapas”) that provide much of the passenger transport in the central Mozambican city of Beira pulled their vehicles off the roads on Monday morning, demanding that new fares take effect immediately.
This comes 40 days after an earlier stoppage. Then the chapa operators believed they had won their case for a fare increase of five meticais (about eight US cents) for every ten kilometres travelled.
On 16 June, the Beira Municipal Assembly approved the new fares but, much to the chapa owners’ anger, they have not yet come into effect, for reasons unknown.
So on Monday the chapas did not take to the streets, forcing their would-be passengers to walk or to seek alternatives (such as the handful of buses operated by the Beira municipal bus company, motor-bike taxis, or the open trucks known derisively as “my love”).
According to a report on the independent television station STV, the Association of Beira Transport Operators (ATABE) blamed the stoppage on “defective communication” between themselves and Beira Municipal Council.
ATABE spokesperson, Americo Massicuane, promised that the stoppage will last until at least Wednesday. On that day, a meeting is scheduled between ATABE, the City Council and the Transport Ministry. The Council promises to give its version of events on Tuesday.
The police stepped up their presence at all the main Beira bus stops, in order to dissuade any resort to violence, as had happened during previous Beira stoppages, when striking Beira chapa drivers attacked any vehicles that were still carrying passengers, even in private cars.