The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
PRIVATE commuter omnibus operators will not be returning to business anytime soon as Government continues to reiterate its position of sanity to the urban transport sector.
Further, companies that had engaged private transport operators must do so through Zupco, the Government has said. The private-owned commuter omnibuses have been banned since the lockdown was effected on 30 March last year as part of measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, with Government saying only operators affiliated to Zupco were allowed to operate.
Last week scores of commuters in Bulawayo were left stranded as police impounded vehicles that were pirating in defiance of the Government’s travel regulations meant to curb the spread of Covid-19. Police impounded staff buses, vehicles hired to ferry school children that are not registered under the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) and taxis operating illegally.
However, this resulted in chaos as most school children who are ferried to schools in hired buses were stranded while some workers failed to get to work in time.
In an interview on the sidelines of handover and launch of the Local Authorities Database System (LADS) and Ward Profiles for Matabeleland and Midlands provinces yesterday, Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Cde July Moyo reiterated Government’s stance on private-owned kombis saying even companies should hire Zupco affiliated vehicles to ferry their staff.
“Zupco affiliated commuter omnibuses are the only ones allowed to operate, that is the policy in place and it has not changed. Anybody who have their own buses and want to operate must go and register with Zupco. This all is to ensure that we manage urban companies through one company but with many owners. All we are saying is that we want to bring sanity to the whole system.
Even companies that want to hire buses for their workers should do so through Zupco alone and not hire private companies,” said Minister Moyo.
He said they will be looking at companies that actually owned staff buses to see how they could then include them in the policy but emphasizing that at the moment only Zupco affiliated commuter omnibuses and buses were the only ones allowed to operate.
The Minister further revealed that the Government, working with the Harare Institute of Technology had come up with a computer programme that was helping them manage all the Zupco affiliated vehicles.
“It is now easy to monitor all these vehicles as the responsible authorities can do this by just using their mobile phones through this system. This is what we are pushing for when we talk about effectively managing our vehicles,” he said.
Last week police in Bulawayo arrested a total of 13 touts and 209 vehicles operating illegally were seized. Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube was quoted as saying the Road Motor Transport Act states that only Zupco-contracted commuter omnibuses are allowed to be hired as staff buses or to ferry school children hence the operation.
Commuters however, raised concerns that they were facing transport challenges as Zupco was sometimes overwhelmed by the number of people especially during peak hours.