Zupco losing business in Bulawayo

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Tamary Chikiwa

ZIMBABWE United Passenger Company (Zupco) buses in Bulawayo are losing business to pirate taxis who are charging less than the government subsidised fares.
In the wake of the lockdown, the government banned private commuter buses from ferrying passengers locally and made Zupco the only mode of transport.

Zupco had been charging $16 for buses while its kombis were going for $32 before the fares were increased sharply to $30 and $60 respectively. Private motorists in the city are now charging between $25 and $40 per trip.

The Daily News crew caught up with some Zupco inspectors at the City Hall terminus, who said business is slow.

“Ever since the fares were hiked, we have lost customers because they prefer to board private cars. Also given that it takes time to load the bus, people prefer small cars that load faster,” said an inspector who could not be named since he is not authorised to talk to the media.

The inspector added that many times they find pick-up points “empty”. “Where we used to pick up passengers, you find out that the places will be empty because you can’t wait for a bus or kombi that charges more than private cars,” said the inspector.

A Honda Fit driver, who plies the Leeside route, said this is an opportunity for them to make money although it’s illegal.

“We are not allowed on the road but trust me we have been making money. While Zupco is trying to load passengers l would have done three trips,” said Marshall Ndlovu.

Ndlovu said the police roadblocks were not a headache because they pay the police some money in the morning to look the other side when they pass.

“We are looking for survival so they (police) cannot just arrest me or stop me. It’s a matter of understanding each other. I pay a certain amount in the morning and it’s good enough for me to make my trips,” he said.

Ndlovu, however, said for distant suburbs where the roads are bad, they let Zupco buses do the work. A passenger, Nolibo Mathe, said buses are becoming less popular because of their charges.

“Zupco buses are expected to be affordable, not these high fares. I would rather go for private transport because Zupco fares are no longer reasonable,” she said.

Contacted for comment, Zupco southern division operations manager Tineyi Rwasoka requested the reporter to send an email, which has not been responded to since last Friday.

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