Chapas return to work

Maputo-Matola 

The privately-owned minibus taxis, which provide much of Maputo's passenger transport, decided to resume their activities in the capital and the adjoining city of Matola as from Wednesday morning after a 24 hour strike on Tuesday.

All Africa, 04/19/06

The privately-owned minibus taxis, which provide much of Maputo's passenger transport, decided to resume their activities in the capital and the adjoining city of Matola as from Wednesday morning after a 24 hour strike on Tuesday.

The strike ended following an agreement between the government's National Roads Administration (ANE) and the Mozambican Federation of Road Transport Associations (FEMATRO) on the tolls to be paid by passenger vehicles for use of the Maputo- South Africa motorway.

FEMATRO had claimed, as its justification for pulling vehicles off the roads, that the South African based consortium TRAC had reneged on an agreement reached in March. That agreement had been that the minibuses would enjoy a 40 per cent discount on the tolls as from 11 April.

TRAC, however, said that, for organisational reasons, it was not possible to introduce the discount until 1 May. Furthermore, a study it had undertaken into the impact of the discount, suggested that it should be set at 38 per cent.

Tuesday's agreement accepts that the discount will only take effect from 1 May, but that it will be 40 per cent. The toll for light vehicles (the category covering most of the minibuses) at the Maputo toll gate, after the increase that took effect on 1 March, is 17,500 meticais (about 70 US cents).

With a 40 per cent discount, the toll for the minibuses (known colloquially as "chapas") will be 10,500 meticais. With a 38 per cent discount, it would have been 10,850 meticais.

So the chapa owners have won 350 meticais (1.4 US cents) for each crossing of the toll gate. It will take a long time for this minuscule gain to wipe out the losses from an entire day without any fare income.

The chapa owners called their strike at very short notice, and with no explanation for the travelling public. Thus on Tuesday morning thousands of people went to their usual bus- stops, unaware of the strike. Some ended up walking ten kilometres or more to work.

The FEMATRO strike was another cruel illustration of the desperate shortage of public transport in Maputo, though the government has promised to import more buses for the public bus company, TPM.

 

The strike (All Africa 04/18/06):

Operators of many privately owned minibus taxis staged a bosses' strike in Maputo and the adjoining city of Matola on Tuesday, pulling their vehicles off the roads in protest against an alleged reversal of an agreement reached with the consortium Trans African Concessions (TRAC) that would grant them a 40 per cent discount at the Maputo and Moamba toll gates.

The agreement with TRAC reached on 8 March, following a decision by the taxi operators to circumvent the Maputo toll gate, by using an alternative, and much longer, route between Matola and Maputo, was supposed to soften the impact of an increase in the tolls that took effect on 1 March.

Thus while most vehicles would pay the new tolls, passenger transport operators would enjoy a hefty discount (as happens in South Africa).

The Mozambican Federation of Road Transport Associations (FEMATRO) explained that the decision to pull the vehicles (known colloquially as "chapas") off the roads was because TRAC had broken its word, and the government was not protecting the transport operators.

They complain that the agreement on a discount will only take effect on 1 May, rather than on 11 April, and the discount offered will be 38 per cent, not 40 per cent.

TRAC, the consortium that operates the Maputo-South Africa motorway negotiates the tolls once a year with the government's National Roads Administration (ANE). A 20.7 per cent increase took effect as of 1 March increasing the toll for light vehicles (and most minibuses fall into this category) at the Maputo tollgate from 14,500 to 17,500 meticais (from 58 to 70 US cents). A 40 per cent reduction as claimed by FEMATRO would mean a toll for small passenger transport vehicles of 10,500 meticais. A 38 per cent reduction would lead to a toll of 10,850 meticais.

The difference of 350 meticais a trip is worth just 1.4 US cents.

FEMATRO chairperson Rogerio Manuel was outraged that TRAC, in its latest letter to the road transporters, pointed out that it has no contractual obligations to them, and therefore had no intention of negotiating with FEMATRO.

TRAC has justified its position on the grounds that a study on the impact of the discount indicated it should be 38 per cent.

As for the delay in implementation until 1 May, this was due to "organisational reasons".

However, TRAC has stressed that, until 1 May, the "interim solution" whereby the chapas go on paying the old toll of 14,500 meticais, will continue.

One can foresee obvious difficulties with a fare of 10,850 meticais – the smallest coin readily available is for 500 meticais. In theory coins for 100 and for 50 meticais exist, but they have long since disappeared from circulation. AIM found that FEMATRO's strike was hitting Matola hard, where all chapa routes were affected. But in Maputo a fair number of transport operators had ignored the strike call.

Since the chapas provide much of the passenger transport in the two cities, the strike is certainly highly inconvenient. The buses of the public transport company. TPM, cannot meet the demand, and so many people were resigned to walking from home to work – which could easily be a distance of ten kilometres or more.

But those most severely affected are certainly the chapa owners and their workers. With no fare income for three or four days, their businesses will be hard hit. TRAC will find it much easier to sit out a strike than will FEMATRO.

The Minister of Public Works, Felicio Zacarias, told reporters the government "is working to find a solution".

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2 Responses to “Chapas return to work”

  1. olympic london Says:

    Congratulations this really is a wonderful (& well overdue) site.

  2. Jenise Greenly Says:

    Would you sell oobly for 500k? #JustSaying 😀

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