Tanaka Nyambo, H-Metro Reporter
. . . as commuters shun private players
WITH the increased demand for affordable public transport in the country, commuters have called for more buses under the Zupco banner.
Recent fuel price increases have seen private players in the transport sector fares unsustainable to most commuters.
Urban routes in the capital now cost around $5 for a single trip while those from Chitungwiza are paying around $14 for return trip. Meanwhile, Zupco charges between 50cents and 75cents per trip.
Government plans to grow Zupco’s fleet to 3000 under Vision 2030 of a middle income economy.
Commuters said they wanted Zupco buses to have an improved timetable so that they use affordable transport.
Government commissioned 47 more buses for urban mass transportation last week.
Residents that said 0.50c fare charged by ZUPCO was still affordable and a fair price.
Tariro Zuze said the introduction of ZUPCO buses had put to an end the confusion in the sector where kombi operators are hiking fares willy-nilly. He called for introduction of more buses.
“As commuters, we have been facing challenges concerning outrageous transport fares. We cannot afford fares that are being charged by kombis. ZUPCO buses should continuously operate so that we are assured of fair fares.
“We are hoping that the Government will keep the fare at 0.50c so that everyone can afford to at least go to work.
“We appeal to the Government to increase the fleet so that private players who are robbing people are pushed out of business,” he said.
Maud Musindo applauded the Government for bringing relief to commuters who were being charged exorbitant fares.
She urged the Government to take the programme to long distance routes such as rural areas where prices have gone to $100 and above for long distance travellers.
“We hope that the Government will allocate more buses to rural areas because we want to pay lesser fares than we are paying now,” she said.
Some private commuter omnibus operators also expressed interest in joining the Government programme saying they were willing to charge fair transport fares provided they are allocated fuel at cheaper prices.
“We applauded the Government on the introduction of urban mass transportation, and we are willing to partner with the Government and help commuters,” said one kombi operator Paul Zhakata.
Another one retorted, “We used to get decent profits as compared to now because both fuel prices and motor spares were manageable.
“The amount we used to pay for spares and fuel is double the price we pay now,’” he said.
Government has allocated ZUPCO buses in major cities around the country as it tries to stabilise transport fees something that will promote competition among the sector.
Pamela Ruvende who resides in Kuwadzana said they were facing some challenges regarding the buses’ timetables.
“Buses are taking long to pick up people from different designated points and this is making us reach our workplaces late.
“They should have strict take off timetables at various pick up points,” she said.
Citizens have, however, urged Government to hire competent personalities from both public and private sector to effectively manage the ZUPCO fleet to avoid what happened to the parastatal during the previous dispensation.
Commuters commended the move adding that roads and railway systems should also be rehabilitated to increase the lifespan of the buses.
“An efficient and reliable public transportation system is urgently needed in Zimbabwe. The acquisition of a new ZUPCO fleet is commendable.
“ZUPCO has got to be properly managed with accountability, rehabilitation of our roads and railway system is also of paramount importance,” advised one commuter who refused to be named.
ZUPCO acting Chief Executive Officer Everisto Madangwa in an interview with H-Metro said they were working on bringing more buses to reduce the demand.
“We will increase the buses so that we meet the demand which has increased after private commuter omnibuses increased their fares.
“I might not tell you the exact date when the buses are coming but something is happening soon,” he said.
He adds that everything will fall into place when the buses eventually hit the streets and that they will be following their timetable religiously and commuters should not expect a fare hike from ZUPCO.
“Now it seems as if we are not following the timetable because the demand has increased but we are trying.
“Everything will go back to normal when we bring more buses,” he said.