Busi­nesses, trav­ellers re­port damp­ened Christ­mas

The Manica Post - - Local News - Emmah Chinya­mu­tan­gira Post cor­re­spon­dent

LOW busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties char­ac­terised this year’s Christ­mas hol­i­day with most re­tail shops record­ing poor sales in Mutare city cen­tre as price hikes hit hard on con­sumers’ dis­pos­able in­come.

The cur­rent fuel cri­sis also left a huge dent on many as merry mak­ers could hardly travel due to lack of fuel or its ex­or­bi­tant prices which were be­ing charged by trans­porters.

A snap sur­vey by The Man­ica Post from Satur­day to Mon­day re­vealed less ac­tiv­i­ties in re­tail shops with less cus­tomers com­pared to pre­vi­ous years seen in su­per­mar­kets such as Pick ‘n’ Pay, OK Zim­babwe and Spar as they did their last minute shop­ping.

There was also low turn-out at fast foods out­lets dot­ted around the city as soar­ing prices seemed to have chased away cus­tomers.

“Many peo­ple did not en­joy their Christ­mas hol­i­day due to con­tin­u­ous in­creases of prices of ba­sic com­modi­ties and short­ages of bev­er­ages,” said Mrs Pre­cious Nyan­doro.

“We could not have a spe­cial meal on Christ­mas Day as we used to do in the pre­vi­ous years. We ended up hav­ing an or­di­nary meal which was not as ex­pected,” she said.

Tal­ent Kucha said she had a tor­rid time in search­ing for cheaper clothes for her chil­dren as prices had gone up in most cloth­ing shops.

She said they were also un­der pres­sure from their chil­dren who were ex­pect­ing new clothes as per other pre­vi­ous years.

“We were un­der pres­sure from chil­dren who in­sisted on hav­ing new clothes on Christ­mas Day. These chil­dren do not un­der­stand what we are go­ing through as par­ents con­cern­ing fi­nan­cial chal­lenges that we are fac­ing. We have to strug­gle through to pro­vide for them,” said Mrs Kucha.

Some peo­ple who were look­ing for­ward to trav­el­ling this hol­i­day said they were forced to abort their jour­neys be­cause of trans­port costs.

Com­muters were left stranded as some trans­porters hiked their fares more than three times from last week’s prices.

John Ku­taika from Chikanga said he was forced to abort his jour­ney after fail­ing to raise the fares which were be­ing charged.

“We failed to travel to our ru­ral home due to fares be­ing de­manded by trans­porters. We hoped that we will re­con­nect with our ru­ral folks dur­ing the Christ­mas but we failed,” he said.

A trip from Mutare to Harare was $25 up from an av­er­age of $8.

Trav­el­ling from Mutare to Gweru was be­tween $30 and $35 up from about $15 a week ago with those trav­el­ling from Mutare to Bulawayo had to part with fares rang­ing be­tween $35 and $40.

Trans­port op­er­a­tors claimed they were buy­ing diesel from the black mar­ket where prices were hugely in­flated.

They claimed 20 litres of diesel was cost­ing $80 depend­ing on the day’s de­mand.

“We are forced to hike these fares be­cause of fuel short­ages. We are re­ly­ing on the black mar­ket for sup­plies. Some peo­ple are hoard­ing the fuel caus­ing an ar­ti­fi­cial short­age on the mar­ket,” said Tendai Nde­mera, a bus op­er­a­tor.

Mr Thomas Mukuyu, a bus driver with Serengeti Bus Ser­vices, said they were be­ing forced to buy fuel from black mar­ket as trans­porters are not pa­tient to wait for fuel in queues es­pe­cially when de­mand is high dur­ing the hol­i­days.

“If the fuel sit­u­a­tion re­mains con­strained pri­mar­ily due to a huge in­crease in de­mand, some will not be pa­tient to wait in long queues and will re­sort to buy fuel on the black mar­ket at high prices. While we re­sort to buy fuel on the black mar­ket, we will be left with no choice but to hike the fares,” he said.

Most shops and su­per­mar­kets ran out of drinks dur­ing the Christ­mas pe­riod

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