The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) buses ferry 300 000 passengers a day across the country, whose affordability has lessened financial pressures on commuters, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
Speaking at the commissioning of 76 ZUPCO buses in Bulawayo at the Large City Hall Friday, President Mnangagwa said the government had availed “cheap” ZUPCO buses to cater for commuters who had been paying exorbitant fares charged by unscrupulous transport operators.
“This fleet is expected to go a long way in boosting our public transport delivery system and ease the high transport costs that had become the norm in both in rural and urban areas. These buses have a subsidy by the government so they remain cheap,” he said.
According to Mnangagwa, the majority of the fleet would ply rural routes across Matabeleland and be expected to ease transport challenges faced by both rural and urban commuters.
“Presently ZUPCO is ferrying more than 300 000 commuters from various destinations per day across the nation. Today we are commissioning an additional 76 buses, as I speak the delivery of the balance of the buses is ongoing and they will be more because others are on the road, coming here,” said the president.
He added that these buses were acquired by the government from China, Belarus and South Africa.
“We are going to have an excess of 1500 buses coming. Of the 500 buses ordered from Belarus, 300 of them will come to Zimbabwe as knocked-down kits to be assembled here locally to provide employment for our people,” said Mnangagwa.
The recapitalisation of ZUPCO was commitment and dedication, said Mnangagwa to improve the quality of the ordinary people.
“This was in line with his government’s vision to provide socio safety nets for vulnerable groups after the realisation that the commuting public has often fallen victim to unscrupulous operators who are charging exorbitant bus fares, hence we resolved to recapitalise ZUPCO,” he said.
Mnangagwa also urged local authorities to construct modern infrastructure such as bus termini and appropriate bus stops to guarantee safety, timeliness, efficiency and convenience.
“Users of these buses and commuters must look after these buses and keep them clean. Drivers I plead with you, keep these buses clean,” Mnangagwa added.
In his report ZUPCO, acting chief executive officer, Evaristo Madangwa, said since the beginning of the year, the company has managed to consolidate urban mass transport to cover urban parts of the country such as Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi, Gokwe and recently Chiredzi.
“We are set to reopen Hwange and Gwanda depot to commence operations in those towns. These will be our springboard for reaching out to remote areas and we have made significant inroads in opening dormant areas – Rusape Karoi and Kariba. The opening of these result in total national coverage so that all will benefit from this national programme,” he said.
Madangwa noted that focus was also shifting to cover rural and longer distance routes and has since commenced long-distance operations of the country.
“In this southern region, ZUPCO is covering Nkayi, Dakamela, Gwanda, Filabusi, Binga Plumtree and Tsholotsho just to mention our few,” he said.
The ZUPCO boss made a plea that hopefully, some of the locally assembled buses from Belarus should be custom made to suit the rural terrain.
“In October this year ZUPCO was authorised to expand its fleet car and complement buses with 1000 omnibuses, we are on target having secured 312 omnibuses to date, of which 80 are plying in Bulawayo. We have 507 buses countrywide and of these 92 are operational in Bulawayo continue usage of technologies in promoting efficiency as reach continues ZUPCO pledges its commitment to provide safe, reliable transport,” Madangwa said.