Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
PRIVATELY-RUN commuter omnibuses will not return to the road even after the national lockdown as part of Government measures to bring sanity into the urban transport sector.
Before the lockdown, many urban areas have been battling with urban transport chaos with private operators, including those operating small private cars especially Honda Fit causing traffic jams and disregarding traffic rules. The private-owned commuter omnibuses have been banned since the lockdown was effected on 30 March.
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo last week told Sunday News that the ban on private commuter omnibuses would be made permanent as a way of controlling traffic in urban areas. Urban transport will now fall under the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) and those with private commuter omnibuses who are willing to continue in business will have to register and be contracted under Zupco.
“What we are doing is we want to bring sanity into the transporting sector like what we have done with the haphazard vending that was in the Central Business Districts. The President told us that this is the time for us to bring sanity to some sectors during this lockdown. What the kombi owners can do is register their vehicles with Zupco together with their drivers and they will be good. Actually Zupco is paying them more than what they are making right now,” said Minister Moyo.
He said with vehicles operating under Zupco it becomes easier to manage them.
“We have partnered with a young gentleman from the Harare Institution of Technology who has given us an application that can help us monitor all buses and kombis under Zupco. The application monitors fuel efficiency and when a bus goes off route, it can automatically cut the engine off. This is honestly the direction we want to take as a Government, which is what used to occur back then, we are simply reviving an old system,” he said.
Minister Moyo said the Government was also working on boosting the Zupco fleet.
“This won’t be an easy task; we will obviously have a lot of challenges but we are committed to making this work. As I said earlier, operators must realise that they will make more money, as I am speaking in Manicaland some operators who are under this scheme have made a donation of close to $10 million for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the Minister.
However, the latest move could face resistance from some kombi operators. Tshova Mubaiwa chairperson, Mr Atlas Moyo said their members have made a resolution not to operate under Zupco.
“As an association we opened the door to our members who wanted to join Zupco, those members that have remained have made it clear that they won’t be forced to operate under Zupco,” said Mr Moyo.
He said if the move is made policy, they were prepared to approach the courts so as to have their case heard.
“We are a fully registered company and have the protection of the law. Yes, someone can say that we are barred from operating but we will fight until the end,” said Mr Moyo.