The government used the Covid-19 pandemic to impose Zupco as a monopoly transporter – but the easing of travel restrictions has exposed the state-owned company’s lack of capacity.
Thousands of Zimbabweans wait sometimes for hours to get transport home from work with Zupco’s buses too few to meet demand. Pirate taxi operators who were filling the vacuum have been told by police that their vehicles will be seized, and their passengers made to pay fines of Z$2,000.
“Demanding fines from passengers of private vehicles is an unimaginable act from a careless government which does not deserve any day longer in office,” said MDC Alliance secretary for transport Settlement Chikwinya.
“Zupco is not capable of serving the growing mass travellers both intra and inter-city. The failure by Zupco to serve the public has created an opportunity for private players to serve the needy travellers.
“Zupco buses are too few as compared to the demand by travellers. This therefore means that faced with a crippling shortage of transport, travellers will resort to private players.”
The MDC Alliance is demanding that public transport should also be opened to “registered private transporters to ferry people under a regulated environment, observing Covid-19 protocols.”
Said Chikwinya: “The insistence of government on the current Zupco model where buses are always overloaded and do not observe any Covid-19 protocols simply corroborates the fact that the initiative is one among many of the looting vehicles by close associates to Zanu-PF leadership.”
Government spokesman Ndavaningi Mangwana over the weekend apologised for the transport chaos faced by commuters.
“We realise the difficulties faced by the commuting public as they try to find their way home. It’s not the intention of government to inconvenience citizenry. A lasting solution to our urban transport woes is being implemented. We are sorry for the inconveniences experienced,” Mangwana tweeted.