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Minimum wage rise leads to fares dispute in Zambia

Posted by on Aug 6, 2012 in Accessibility, All news, Bus, Employment, Funding, Management, PPP, Precarious work, Services, Social inclusion, Sub-Saharan Africa |

 Child waiting for a bus to depart in Lusaka, Zambia

A dispute in Zambia has highlighted tensions between bus workers, their employers and passengers when public transport systems have insufficient resources to pay fair wages while keeping fares affordable.

The southern African country’s government has recently increased the minimum wage, and in response private bus operators have raised fares by 600 Kwacha (about 12 US cents) for local journeys in the capital, Lusaka.

Now the Commuters Rights Association of Zambia (CRAZ) has urged passengers not to pay the increase, the Times of Zambia reports. The organisation says there are ongoing  discussions between the government and other ‘stakeholders’ about the level of a fare increase, and that no rise should be imposed in the meantime.

But Ismail Khankara, proprietor of Lusaka’s leading bus operator Capital Buses, was quoted as stating an immediate increase was a necessary because otherwise the company could not pay the minimum wage to its staff.

The country’s government says the increase is invalid, but the operators reject that, according to the Zambia Reports website, and insist that it is up to them and not the government to decide the level of fares.

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