The Government has admitted that some private contractors have withdrawn their buses and commuter omnibuses from the ZUPCO pool.
While it has not been stated why bus and kombi owners walked away from the ZUPCO franchise, it is understood that late payments, which are made in RTGS dollars, contributed to transporters’ reluctance to work with the public transport utility.
Addressing journalists during a post-Cabinet briefing in Harare on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said:
Cabinet wishes to clarify that Government has not banned the operations of private contractors in the public transportation sector.
While noting the apparent withdrawal of services by some operations, Cabinet wishes to state that no effort is being spared in ensuring that the inconvenience to the travelling public is minimised.
Government would like to assure the nation that ZUPCO is engaging with contractors with a view to ensuring that all arrears are settled and resolving any outstanding matters.
In addition, more ZUPCO buses that were undergoing licencing have since been cleared and are now plying various routes.
Commuters have been experiencing transport challenges, especially in urban areas since the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) launched an operation targeting unlicensed taxis (mushikashika).
Mutsvangwa said Cabinet decided that ZUPCO buses plying intercity routes, such as from Harare to Bulawayo, are now required to service local trips when they return from the highways. She said:
ZUPCO buses that are travelling on intercity routes are now required to undertake local trips upon return.
Mutsvangwa warned that the Government will not relent on its blitz against unlicensed vehicles that have filled the transport void created by the kombi ban. Mutsvangwa said:
Government has, however, noted with concern the proliferation of unlicensed vehicles (mushikashika) and unroadworthy vehicles commuting various routes.
The public is informed that Government, through the Zimbabwe Republic Police, will enforce the law without fear or favour for the safety of the travelling public. All vehicles without number plates will be impounded.
In 2020, the Government enforced ZUPCO’s transport monopoly through Statutory Instrument (SI) 83 of 2020.
It said the move was aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus but critics argue that the ban on private buses and kombis was meant to manage the public transport sector following the January 2019 fuel riots.