Transport woes grip commuters

Albert Chavhunduka

Government’s policy inconsistencies in managing the public transport system in the country frustrating and burdening commuters who are now left with fewer options but to wait for hours for a bus just to travel to and from work.

The ongoing countrywide operation by the police against illegal public transporters has worsened the situation around the country, 

The ZRP blitz dubbed “Respect Other Road Users/ Remekedzai Vamwe Vanoshandisa Mugwagwa/ Hloniphani Abanye Abasebenzisa Umgwaqo” by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), is set to continue until there is sanity on the roads.

As a result, pirate taxis which are not on the ZUPCO franchise have been driven out and fallen dramatically, forcing the remaining few which are braving the police operation, to hike their fares which have gone beyond the reach of many.

In a statement on twitter, the ZRP said they have made over 3600 arrests on day four of the countrywide blitz.

“Police arrested 898 motorists throughout the country on day four of operation ‘Respect Other Road Users/ Remekedzai Vamwe Vanoshandisa Mugwagwa/ Hloniphani Abanye Abasebenzisa Umgwaqo’ bringing the cumulative arrests to 3 602,” read the statement.

ZUPCO, which mobilised a franchise of buses and kombis to service suburban routes across the country is overwhelmed and failing to provide safe commuting which is efficient and affordable to the public.

“Admittedly, there is an urban public transport crisis at the moment. The public passenger transport company ZUPCO is struggling to cope with passenger numbers. The government policy to decongest roads and bring sanity to transportation is logical but requires massive investments in bus acquisition,” said Town Planning Consultant Dr Percy Toriro.

Dr Toriro further said that government should allow private players to form associations that are self-governing so as to provide a win-win situation which addresses the ongoing public transport crisis.

“An interim solution could be allowing private players to form strong associations capable of self-policing so that we achieve both adequate investment, passenger satisfaction and discipline on the roads. A win-win situation is possible with sufficient engagement and adherence to public safety,” he said.

Government entered into a deal with China and Belarus to procure buses as part of its efforts to solve the problems of efficient and affordable public transport.

To date, close to 800 buses out of the 1 500 targeted by end of 2022 landed and were commissioned in the country, but however that is not resolving the public transport problems in the country.

While commissioning 90 more Zupco buses last year, President Mnangagwa challenged Zupco to establish an operating system that compliments the country’s economic development agaenda as articulated in the National Development Strategy (NDS1).

Government’s procurement with regards to the ZUPCO buses has been significantly criticised after a company called Landela investments, linked to fuel tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei , is said to have sold the buses at an inflated price.

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