PASSENGERS Association of Zimbabwe (Paz) president Tafadzwa Goliati says the transport problems being faced by commuters are being worsened by the fact that government’s fuel support is only extended to Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) and not private commuter omnibuses.
Goliati’s statement comes as hundreds of commuters have been left stranded over the last few days after some commuter omnibus operators hiked fares, claiming that they were sourcing fuel on the black market.
The Paz president told the Daily News that Zupco — on its own —was clearly failing to provide adequate transport services to commuters.
“It is important for the government to consider private players in this initiative and stop supplying fuel to Zupco only. These private players are ferrying more people than Zupco,” Goliati said.
The government introduced subsidised Zupco buses as a way of alleviating the transport challenges in the wake of exorbitant fares that were being charged by the private players.
The buses charge as little as $1 for all local distances, while it charges $1,50 for a 24km distance, for instance from Harare to Chitungwiza. This is against fares between $7 and $15, which is being charged by private players for local and Chitungwiza routes respectively.
Last November, President Emmerson Mnangagwa commissioned 76 Zupco buses in Bulawayo, after 86 others were delivered in Harare in April and August.
The government-controlled company also received 65 more buses that were still at the Beitbridge Border Post last weekend, waiting for finalisation of the importation process.
Goliati said the buses were still not adequate to cater for the growing urban population.
“The challenge is that the government buses are not adequate, so sometimes they do not come to ferry the people and the private commuter omnibuses are the ones that are always available. They are unreliable and some of them break down along the way,” he said.
The Paz president said as long as fuel shortages persist, private commuter omnibuses will continue to buy pricey fuel on the black market which will force them to charge high fares.
He added that the government has a duty to make fuel available to all the players in the transport sector.
Over past few days, the transport situation in Harare has been unbearable for many commuters, who are seen milling around bus stops in anticipation of getting private cars and in some instances trucks to ferry them home or to work.
Commuter omnibuses, on the other hand, are holed up in long queues waiting to get fuel, which has been scarce for a long time, with government seemingly failing to come up with a lasting solution.
In Bulawayo, over the past few days, thousands of commuters have been left stranded in the Central Business District (CBD) because both Zupco buses and private commuter omnibuses could not access fuel.
Zupco southern region manager Tiny Rwasoka said the parastatal has not been spared from the incessant fuel shortages affecting the country.
and Shamiso Dzingire