Government has intensified efforts to recapitalise the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) as it moves to provide mass public transport to alleviate the plight of commuters. At the weekend 65 buses from China arrived at Beitbridge Border Post.
The buses are being delivered in batches and the 65 that arrived at the weekend are part of the 1 000 buses acquired from China. A few months ago, another batch of 70 buses was delivered from China and the buses have since been distributed to different parts of the country.
Government also bought about 500 buses from Belarus as it works on revamping the transport sector. Government decided to re-introduce mass public transport after realising that commuters were being ripped off by unscrupulous private bus operators.
There are positive indications that Government will soon realise its objective to provide a modern and decent transport system to the commuting public. Commuter omnibus operators are increasing fares willy-nilly and this week scores of commuters were stranded in many urban areas after fares were increased in some cases to as much as $15 per trip.
The operators are citing the shortage of fuel as the reason for increasing the fares by ridiculous margins. What has worsened the plight of commuters is that the number of Zupco buses on the various routes is dwindling by the day.
Many commuters have resorted to boarding pick-up trucks which are cheaper but are putting their lives at risk as many of them are overloaded. We applaud Government for recapitalising Zupco but measures must be put in place to ensure Zupco buses and those contracted under Zupco have adequate fuel to guarantee cheaper public transport.
It is only through provision of alternative cheaper mass transport that unscrupulous private omnibus operators can be reined in. Pirate taxis are taking advantage of the shortage of transport at night to charge extortionate fares and this should be stopped.
Commuters in both urban and rural areas need an efficient but cheaper transport system which can only be provided by Zupco hence we want to commend Government for its efforts to recapitalise the company by increasing its fleet.
There is a need to guarantee commuters adequate buses in the morning when they go to work and, in the evening, when they return home. Zupco should also provide buses for school children who should not be late for school as what is happening now.
We have school children jostling with adults to board pick-up trucks in the morning which is not acceptable. We want at this juncture to implore Government to move with speed to ensure there is adequate fuel for Zupco all the time.