SENIOR STAFF WRITER
INFORMATION minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday announced that Zupco buses are set to increase their carrying capacity to alleviate transport woes for passengers, while privately-owned commuter omnibuses (kombis) stay banned.
This comes as scores of passengers are finding it hard to get to work, especially in urban areas where there is mass movement.
Zupco buses and kombis were limited to carry half their normal capacity in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“Cabinet agreed that henceforth Zupco buses increase their carrying capacity subject to mandatory temperature testing, wearing of masks by passengers and the buses being sanitised after every trip,” Mutsvangwa told journalists during a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare.
“We are actually looking at the problem that our population is encountering at bus stations and that is what we are responding to by increasing Zupco’s carrying capacity. We are actually saying let’s adhere to all the Covid-19 measures which have been put in place, while also making sure that our people do not spend more than two or three hours waiting for buses to go home.
“As to why we are saying no to the private-owned kombis, Zupco has been inviting all those with very good kombis to come on board so that they can work together. We are open to those who have kombis which are roadworthy to join Zupco.”
The government recently indicated that it intended to extend the ban on privately-owned commuter omnibuses beyond the national lockdown and would only allow them to operate under the Zupco franchise.
Mutsvangwa further said that Cabinet noted with concern that most truck drivers were testing positive for Covid-19, yet they were now responsible for illegal movement of passengers between cities.
“While acknowledging the critical role played by truck drivers in the movement of cargo across borders and between cities, Cabinet noted with concern that most truck drivers are testing positive for Covid-19.
“Cabinet resolved that truck drivers found carrying passengers without authorisation be penalised, that truck drivers should be educated on regulations governing their operations in Zimbabwe at the borders and further guidelines for the mandatory testing of truck drivers will be availed soon,” she said.
Recently the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) warned against discrimination of trans-border truck drivers, saying this was affecting the smooth flow of essential goods at a time the region is reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mutsvangwa further indicated that Cabinet had considered and approved the Zimbabwe National Trade Policy and Export Promotion Strategy which proposes an exports roadmap that would realise US$7 billion worth of exports by 2023 and US$14 billion in export value by 2030.
“The specific objectives of the National Trade Policy and the National Export Strategy include promoting the diversification of export products and markets to increase the national export of goods by at least 10 percent annually from US$4,5 billion in 2018 to US$7 billion in 2023, to improve the balance of trade position by at least 10 percent annually, and to improve Zimbabwe’s ranking on the World Bank’s Trading Across Borders Distance to
Frontiers Index from 54,34 percentage points in 2018 to 65 percentage points in 2023 and 75 percentage points in 2030,” Mutsvangwa said.
Meanwhile, Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima revealed that the government had paid the cushioning allowance of $180 per individual to 109 735 people out of the targeted 200 000.