Andile Tshuma/Mashudu Netsianda, Chronicle Reporters
THE Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) is engaging Bulawayo public transport operators to rope in kombis under its comprehensive urban public transport system, a development that will result in reduced fares for city residents.
Government has already extended the Zupco franchise to urban commuter omnibus operators in Harare where people are charged $2 for a trip that is pegged at $4 by operators who are not on the scheme. In Bulawayo, a meeting between Zupco and kombi operators interested in being included in the urban transportation system is expected to be held tomorrow.
In a telephone interview from Harare yesterday, Zupco acting Chief Executive Officer Mr Evaristo Madangwa said all those who want to be part of the transport system are welcome as long as their vehicle papers are in order.
“Registration for the scheme will be done this week. All interested commuter omnibus operators are hereby advised to come to the Zupco depot along Khami Road for finer details,” he said.
Mr Madangwa said vehicle assessment will be done to ensure the safety of passengers.
Zupco divisional operations manager Mr Tineyi Rwasoka said the bus company would meet prospective partners interested in the scheme in Bulawayo tomorrow.
He said under the scheme, commuter omnibuses will charge subsidised fares with kombi operators receiving a lump sum payment over a given period of time.
“What happens is that Zupco agrees on a certain amount with the vehicle owner say for a week or a day, which is fixed and then the kombi is used to ferry people at the gazetted Zupco fare which is subsidised. The kombi owner provides his driver while we bring our own conductor for purposes of transparency.
“We are going to be dealing directly with operators just like what we did in Harare because we want to avoid having to go via associations which can be a hurdle and cumbersome,” said Mr Rwasoka.
Meanwhile, another batch of Zupco buses is expected in the country from South Africa within the next few weeks as Government continues to step up efforts to alleviate transport woes in Zimbabwe’s urban centres.
Speaking during a Zanu-PF rally at Stanley Square in Bulawayo at the weekend, Vice-President Kembo Mohadi said Government was aware of the plight of commuters.
He said Government is determined to address transport challenges through prioritising comprehensive urban public transport systems to increase convenience to the commuting public.
VP Mohadi said Government was committed to easing transport challenges by availing reliable and affordable transport to the people in line with Vision 2030 of transforming the country into an upper middle-income economy.
“The issue of transport is a challenge that Government is seized with. In the next few weeks we are expecting more buses to arrive in the country from South Africa to alleviate transport problems. The buses are at the assembly line in South Africa and although the coming batch will not be enough, it will somehow ease the transport challenges, particularly in our major cities,” he said.
VP Mohadi said Government is also working on setting up bus stations from where the buses would be operating within be regulated time. He said once the buses arrive, commuters will be relieved as they are being ripped off by kombis that hike fares depending on the demand for transport.
“We will set up bus stations to ease congestion and ensure that the buses operate within regulated times. We are also going to introduce more Zupco buses to service rural routes so that the rural folk also benefit from this facility,” he said.
The Government has moved to acquire up to 1 000 buses to strengthen Zupco’s fleet, with a long-term plan of increasing the fleet to over 3 000 buses as part of efforts to boost urban transport systems. Two months ago, President Mnangagwa commissioned 47 Zupco buses, the second batch of a 300-strong fleet, as Government continues to build a safe and reliable transport system.
In April, the President commissioned 39 buses. A further 500 buses from Belarus are on the way.
President Mnangagwa has said the Government will source appropriate buses for people living with disabilities. — @andile_tshuma @mashnets.