By Rutendo Nyeve

Government’s decision to consolidate all urban transport operations under the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) in order to bring sanity to the sector has seen several positive strides with the parastatal coming up with innovations, products and services that promote efficiency and convenience.

These include the tap and go facility, installation of big pos machines in some buses as well as the recent erection of ZUPCO kiosks around bus terminuses.

Government’s decision to consolidate transport service provision under ZUPCO was meant to bring sanity to the transport industry that previously saw private operators (kombis) charging exorbitant fares, frequent review of fares, poor customer care amongst other unscrupulous characteristics.

This decision has however proven to be a step on the right direction by the Second republic as the parastatal has taken up certain innovations to bring sanity to the transport industry particulaly by coming up with convenient, up to date technological payment systems, a development that is in line with the President’s Vision 2030 agenda.

ZUPCO acting CEO Evaristo Madangwa while commenting on the recent erection of ZUPCO kiosks,confirmed the parastatal’s commitment to providing efficient products and services that are cognizant with the technological world.

“At Zupco we strive to come up with innovations, products and services to meet the day to day needs of the commuting public. The tap and go facility is one such initiative aimed at promoting efficiency in the payment system for passenger fares,” said Madangwa.

He further confirmed that the facility has since seen significant growth while plans are underway to improve this innovation.

“Since its introduction in April 2019, the facility had since seen significant growth with more than 60 000 users to date. The Harare Metropolitan Province has the highest number of users of tap-cards, with an average of 81% of total users, followed by Bulawayo Metropolitan Province at 8%.

Going forward, we aim to keep improving this innovation while working with the Harare Institute of Technology. The installation of big pos machines in some of the buses has begun.

These can transact more than 10 000 transactions at any given point. Our passengers will experience a much more easier way of paying their fares.

They will simple tap to pay at a much faster rate than before,” said Madangwa.

A survey conducted by this reporter observed that there was a significant number of people who have not subscribed with the facility hence causing confusion in boarding as the tap and go is given first priority while those who have not subscribed to the facility complain about unfair treatment. Madangwa however encouraged people to embrace the innovation as it was designed to assist those with cash challenges.

“We encourage the use of the tap card facility as it was designed to assist the commuting public facing cash challenges. It is a convenient card as there is no need to look for hard cash for bus fare. One can buy or top up their cards from our agents who are stationed at ZUPCO kiosks. These kiosks are also a one stop shop for access to information on our services,” said Madangwa.

One of the most frustrating features that characterised private operators(kombis) was the poor customer service as touts and conductors would speak vulgar and shout at passengers. ZUPCO has however taken customer care to be a top priority through rolling out customer service training programs for all employees especially those in contact with passengers.

“We are also rolling out customer care training programmes and have started with our  tap card agents. This training is earmarked for all employees especially those who serve at touch points of our brand, who include drivers, conductors, point monitors amongst others. We will soon be training several of them on the backdrop of our recently introduced mantra #zeropassengercomplaints.

The training incorporates etiquette, basic principles of customer care and aspects of total quality management. Our aim is to enhance service delivery and also equip our staff with requisite skills for long term success while meeting the expectations of our customers,” said Madangwa.

Technological innovations have been at the epicentre of  development with developed countries already using the same payment systems as these introduced by the Second republic.