ZIMBABWE is set to begin assembling local buses next month and boost the motoring industry, create jobs and aid the Government’s push for a modern and reliable mass public transport system.
The bulk of the coaches are expected to be fed into the Zupco fleet.
Amalgamated Bus Industries (ABI) — a consortium of local public transport operators — has already acquired assembly kits worth US$7 million for the venture.
ABI, which recently secured a US$35 million loan from Chinese investors to revive local bus manufacturing, has since entered into a partnership with Deven Engineering.
It has also signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with AVM Africa and Quest Motor Corporation.
The Sunday Mail understands that Government, through Zupco, has made a commitment to purchase up to 60 percent of the buses produced through the ABI facility.
ABI finance director Mr Kura Sibanda said the company is expecting the first kits worth US$7 million by March 14.
“The kits will be delivered to Deven, where the units will be assembled immediately. We should be seeing the first locally assembled units by the end of March,” said Mr Sibanda.
“For these kits, we are working with Deven, but we have MOUs in place with the other two assemblers, and as we progress, we intend to expand and take them on board.
“We will have 40 units and other key components to enable assembling. They are all valued at US$7 million.”
The deal is envisaged to revive Government-owned Deven Engineering, which has suffered multiple false starts in its recapitalisation efforts.
The assembling companies will be paid US$12 000 for a single Zhongtong bus unit, which will ultimately cost US$75 000.
Ministry of Industry and Commerce Permanent Secretary Dr Mavis Sibanda said there were concerted efforts to resuscitate Deven.
“There are a lot of measures being put in place to resuscitate Deven. We fully support the revival of Deven and the assembly of buses locally because these have immense benefits to commerce and industry.”
Speaking while commissioning the latest batch of 115 new Zupco buses on Thursday, President Mnangagwa indicated that import substitution will have a huge impact on the economy.
“In line with Government’s intention to partially privatise Zupco, as highlighted in the 2022 Budget, I am informed that some investors, including sons and daughters of our country, have entered into arrangements with local bus assembly companies,” he said.
“This will create jobs as well as lower the cost of bus procurement in foreign currency as many of the parts can be sourced locally.
“I, therefore, challenge local entrepreneurs to be bolder and embark on the manufacturing of components, taking advantage of the enabling environment created under the Second Republic.”
The Government has bought more than 450 buses over the past 12 months, of which 349 have been delivered.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister Mike Madiro said the country will reap huge dividends from assembling buses locally.
“On the transport side, it’s a positive development and this is what we are about as the Second Republic,” he said.
“These buses are tailor-made for us and this has a lot of benefits in terms of efficiency to our passenger transport network. This also ensures that our roads have a long lifespan because the vehicles will be fit for the road. There are a lot of benefits.”
In the 2022 Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said public service buses will be purchased locally beginning this year. – Sunday Mail