HARARE – Monopoly public transport company ZUPCO “has demonstrated incapacity to be able to carry every passenger,” an MP said on Tuesday as parliament summoned local government minister July Moyo to give a ministerial statement on the country’s failing public transport system.
ZUPCO has enjoyed the monopoly since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020 after the government grounded privately-owned minibuses.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (CCC) said the ZUPCO monopoly had failed, while urging the government to re-open public transport provision to private players.
The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said Moyo would be asked to bring a statement to the National Assembly soon, to be followed by a debate.
“As it is, due to a lack of reliable public transport, people are getting home at around 11PM. People are delaying to come to work up to around 9AM or 10AM. It is causing loss of production time and loss of quality time within people’s homes,” Chikwinya said.
Privately-owned minibuses which had joined the ZUPCO pool were pulling out because ZUPCO “would delay in payments and was paying in RTGs which was losing value by day.”
Chikwinya proposed that public transport services be opened to private players as long as they can satisfy three conditions: “availability of transport, affordability and safe travel.”
In his Workers Day message, President Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted that ZUPCO had failed – but his government remains determined to press on with its monopoly.
Mnangagwa said: “My government is determined to retain the purchasing power of workers, through a viable public transport system. The government will not stand by and watch while the hard-earned incomes of our workers are stolen by ‘mushika-shikas’ and ‘makoronyera’. No!
“You, as our workers, deserve an efficient and affordable transport system so that production time as well as your family time is not lost in transport queues. During peak hours, workers must be transported with the greatest ease.
“I, therefore, direct authorities at ZUPCO and the responsible ministry to heed this call and bring back order in the sector.”
In recent days, police have launched a crackdown against pirate public transporters who were easing the pressure on ZUPCO. The crackdown has only served to lengthen queues for transport, and unapproved transporters have hiked their fares as they take on the risk of having their vehicles impounded.