(Last Updated on May 5, 2022 by zimdaily)
HARARE – Public transporter, Zupco, has engaged private contractors with a view to resolving various issues that have seen the majority of operators withdrawing their services resulting in crippling transport shortages across the country. Since last week, commuters in Harare have had to endure long queues at Zupco bus ranks from as early as 4am in the morning and from 1pm until well after 9pm in the evening, including on weekends, as the few buses available failed to ferry the thousands of commuters to and from the Central Business District on time.
Kombi operators claimed they were incapacitated owing to low hire fees and the failure by Zupco to pay them on time.
The operators said they were failing to service their vehicles as a result of the low hire fees, which average an equivalent of US$20 per day, which they said was way below the equivalent of US$70 that those operating illegally outside the Zupco franchise are making per day.
With Zupco kombis and buses unavailable, pirate taxis commonly known as mshikashika had been taking advantage to charge exorbitant fares of up to US$3 per trip.
Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Government had not banned the operations of private contractors in the public transportation sector.
“While noting the apparent withdrawal of services by some operators, Cabinet wishes to state that no effort is being spared in ensuring that the inconvenience to the travelling public is minimised.
“Government would like to assure the nation that Zupco is engaging with contractors with a view to ensuring that all arrears are settled and resolving any outstanding matters,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said more Zupco buses that had been undergoing licensing have since been cleared and were now plying various routes while Zupco buses that were travelling on inter-city routes were now required to undertake local trips upon return.
Over the past year, the Government has imported more than 450 buses from China of which more than 340 were given to Zupco to boost its fleet.
The new fleet is expected to help in fixing the country’s public transportation challenges.
For now, the major part of the Zupco fleet remains the private bus and commuter omnibus operators under the franchise agreement.
However, operators who are not under the franchise have of late been taking advantage of the shortage of buses to offer transport to commuters at higher fares than those charged by Zupco.
Minister Mutsvangwa said this was unacceptable.
“Government has, however, noted with concern the proliferation of unlicensed vehicles (mushikashika) and unroadworthy vehicles commuting various routes,” she said.
“The public is informed that the Government, through the Zimbabwe Republic Police, will enforce the law without fear or favour for the safety of the travelling public. All vehicles without number plates will be impounded.
“The security of the travelling public is very critical and that is what Cabinet is looking at. We cannot leave the public at the mercy of unroadworthy vehicles. We do not want any of our people to be endangered.”
Meanwhile, Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had also approved Zimbabwe’s bid for an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council seat at the upcoming ICAO council elections to be held later this year in Canada.
“The elections will take place during the 41st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Zimbabwe is seeking to be the SADC representative to ICAO following the expiry of the tenure of Zambia in the ICAO Council and in accordance with the SADC rotational principle,” she said.