Few countries are as messed up as Zim, but out of the ashes comes something good. When I was there for 2 weeks in 1998, I rented a Hertz mazda 606. It cost $1 US / mile + gas at about $4 a gallen. (I did shamlessly disconnect the speedo) Since then Mugabe stoped paying for gas import tab and bang no more gas. What can you say in the land where the stateowned telco charges $25,000 a month for dsl speed connectivity. I like the part where employers are buying the bikes to get people to work faster.
Zimbabweans turn to pedal power as the petrol pumps stay dry
October 4, 2005
Harare: Fed up with fuel pumps that often run dry, commuters in Harare are trading petrol power for pedal power.
The humble bicycle is becoming a vehicle of choice as Zimbabwe wrestles with its worst fuel crisis since independence in 1980, prompted by a severe
foreign currency shortage.
There are long queues outside those service stations that are still getting deliveries, with cars, buses and trucks sometimes parked for days before getting rationed fuel.
Fuel shortages have also caused a surge in the cost of public transport, with private bus operators doubling their fares last month.
Many Zimbabweans, like 33-year-old Biliat Jorindo, say they can no longer afford bus fares and must find an alternative. "This is my new car," he said, as he unwrapped his new black bicycle, partly funded by his employer, a security firm.
"For us there is no other way. This is now my only means of getting around," said Jorindo, who will now be cycling the 8km to work in Harare from his home on the city's outskirts.
On a good day, said Jorindo, it could take him between 30 and 40 minutes to get to work using public transport.
On a bad day, when there are fewer buses, it can take up to three hours, he said.
Jorindo is one of the lucky ones who lives fairly close to town.
"Some people cycle in a round trip from places like Chitungwiza or Ruwa (townships south of Harare) to work and back, a trip of up to 100km per day," said Laster Chihuri, 36, a fellow security guard.
In central Harare, the bicycle business is booming, dealers said.
"The fuel crisis is definitely having a major influence as more and more people turn to cycling," said Yunis Mahomed, owner of Manica Cycles.
He said companies were buying bicycles for workers, mainly to try to cut down on the time it takes people to get to work.
"The only problem is that I'm battling to replenish my stock. It's difficult when you sell, say 200 bicycles this month, and there's no foreign currency to buy more," Mahomed said.
Zimbabwe has had a severe fuel crisis since late April when foreign currency shortages disrupted petrol imports.
The crisis has crippled municipal and emergency services in Harare, with only one fire engine in operation, and city authorities have admitted they bought fuel on the black market to keep afloat, the state-run Herald newspaper reported last month.
Two weeks ago, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, began walking the 8km to work to protest against the fuel shortages.
Ordinary Zimbabweans are faced with few choices but to start peddling.
Said security guard Chihuri: "Cycling should be practised for the sake of enjoying, not for the sake of surviving." - Sapa-AFP