Opening up of public transport system a welcome move

For the past few weeks commuters around the country have had nightmarish encounters trying to travel from one place to the other, especially during peak hours.

In some places, mostly in High Density suburbs, people have been enduring long hours of waiting in queues for their turn to board ZUPCO buses and kombis to their homes.

Workers have been the most affected as some would get home as late as 10 p.m. and wake up as early as 4 a.m. in order for them to be able to get to their workstations on time.

Some had to risk their limbs and even life as they travelled under very precarious conditions in trucks, lorries and even on top of buses. Others had to walk home as they could not afford the fares charged by some opportunists who took advantage of the situation.

Female passengers had to face humiliating and embarrassing moments and were open to harassment, some forced into undignified actions all in an effort to get home.

Since the banning of other players from providing public transport services, the transport situation has been dire, with the State owned ZUPCO failing to effectively service urban routes owing to a shortage of buses and kombis.

The withdrawal of some operators from the ZUPCO franchise scheme in the past few days further compounded the situation.

Some private operators have been supplementing ZUPCO, albeit illegally, and their services have been helping a lot as they eased the pressure from the state owned monopoly.

However, the launch last week of a blitz against these private players saw the situation sink into total chaos, as passengers were left stranded at various bus termini as ZUPCO failed to cope with the high volumes of commuters.

The few private transport players who managed to sneak into town and individuals took advantage of the situation and were charging as much as $3 for a 15 kilometre journey.

It is however, refreshing to note that government has now made a sober decision to open up the public transport system for other players in order to complement the services being provided by ZUPCO.

President Emerson Mnangagwa announced Saturday that private players would be allowed into the transport sector following the reduction in Covid-19 cases and the subsequent opening up of the economy.

Government also introduced a duty free importation for a period of 12 months, for vehicles which meet regulations to, which will allow private operators to beef up their fleet.

This, he said would be done under terms and conditions to be published by Government.

This is commendable considering that the transport situation was beginning to affect business and ultimately the whole economy of the country.

Workers have been coming to work late and already exhausted before they had even started working, which was beginning to affect production volumes for many enterprises.

The private players, on their part, now have to play by the rules and ensure their crew on the road maintain discipline.

While their services are crucial to the economic development of the country, the behaviour of some of them leave a lot to be desired.

While allowing them to operate law enforcement agents from both the ZRP and the respective municipalities must ensure that laws are followed so that there is sanity.

Authorities need to decisively deal with touts, who have a reputation of harassing commuters with impunity and ensure that they should never be allowed at any pick up points again.

Councils should also take advantage of this as it creates avenues for revenue generation, which revenue has been going to touts at their expense.

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