Debra Matabvu, Harare Bureau
THE Government and private commuter omnibus (kombi) operators are expected to hold crunch talks this week, as the latter angle for a sensational return to intra-city operations after a six-month hiatus.
The discussions follow the continued relaxation of lockdown measures, which has increased both vehicular and passenger traffic. In order to smoothen liaison with authorities and better regulate the sector, commuter omnibus operators also plan to create an umbrella association.
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo told our Harare Bureau that Government was crafting a public transport plan.
“We remain committed to the urban transport system and for now we want to remain with one transport system. We have a transport plan for urban commuters that we will soon unveil.”
Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators secretary-general Ngoni Katsvairo said engagement with Government was necessary as transport shortages continue to plague commuters.
“We wrote a letter in June to Zupco and Local Government (and Public Works). However, we were advised to wait until lockdown regulations had been relaxed.
“We have written again to the authorities for engagement and we are hoping to meet next week (this week) for talks. Government has allowed resumption of inter-city travel and the measures are only favourable to those with big companies, and not kombis.
“The meeting will be about how kombis can ply in urban areas as well as inter-city going forward. The meeting will also look at how kombis can be allowed to join associations of their choice going forward.”
Kombis have been barred from operating since the lockdown started on March 30. Only those contracted under the Zupco franchise are allowed to operate.
However, the relaxation of some lockdown regulations has seen most parts of the economy opening up, causing a marked increase in the number of daily commuters. Zupco is currently operating with 507 conventional buses and 500 commuter omnibuses, and is trying to conscript additional kombis.
Passengers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Tafadzwa Goliati said with the opening up of various economic sectors, passengers have increased, thus the need to increase buses.