EDITOR – The introduction of the Zupco tap card was a worthy innovation which we all expected to revolutionise operational modalities in the public transport sector.
The system eliminated the burden of having to look for cash to pay for transport which could not be found anywhere except mobile money platforms where it could only be “bought” at punitive premiums.
It is fairly obvious that the government is looking forward to improving the public transport sector and surely one step towards achieving this would have been ensuring that commuters move away from cash payments for transport, in line with the wider campaign towards a cash-lite society.
Zimbabwe has battled cash shortages for a very long time now and getting money for transport was one of the reasons why the commuting public was often forced to “buy” cash at heavy premiums, of course over and above other “little money” requirements like buying tomatoes, onions and similar domestic requirements.
However, no later than the tap card was proving to be the in thing has it been gradually relegated in favour of the more cumbersome cash fares.
Different people have different preferences but electronic payments would surely have been much better, ensuring continued migration into a digital world.
Most public transport vehicles on the Zupco franchise no longer have the machines on which the tap cards work and therefore demand cash.
While the cash situation has improved slightly with the stabilising economic situation, we should continue to embrace digital strategies that reduce the demand for cash transactions.
The idea of the tap card was very noble but there are some challenges that need immediate attention.
On the one hand, the card itself has become a bit expensive, pushing it out of reach of many average Zimbabweans who will still need to fund the cards with the money they will use for transport.
It is also important for Zupco to ensure the conductors and the rest of the bus crew ensure the machines are functional at all times so that the commuting public will not be inconvenienced.
Tap card use must be extended to Zupco kombis for the convenience of commuters.
There are some unscrupulous bus crews who have bought tap cards, fund them by swiping large amounts.
They then collect cash from commuters while using their tap cards later on buying foreign currency using the cash and for them, it is a lucrative business venture that ensures them optimum profit.
Zupco must make the tap card work because people have the cards and it is the company’s responsibilty to ensure the machines work all the time.
The use of the tap card also minimises chances of bus crews stealing from the company.
Zupco must always strive to operate in tandem with the times.