Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Villagers here have appealed to the Government to speedily expand subsidised ZUPCO bus systems in remote areas, accusing private commuter omnibus operators of ripping them off.
Most kombi operators and taxis plying rural routes have more than quadrupled fares citing a spike in spare parts prices and the recent increase in the cost of fuel, hitting hard in the pockets of the poor.
This comes as most private bus operators here such as BnC, Mapuranyanga, Shu-Shine and Tatenda Tours among a host of others have folded operations due to pressing economic challenges.
Chiredzi North National Assembly member Cde Roy Bhila cited the plight of villagers in his constituency which is home to more than 100 000 and could not be fully serviced by private commuter omnibuses as they would end up over-charging villagers.
“My constituency encompasses the greater part of Chiredzi’s new resettlement areas and such areas have been sidelined by bus operators due to the unavailability of proper roads,” he said.
“Given the population in my constituency, surely the kombi operators cannot be the sole transport operators to rely on. Villagers are complaining that they are being over-charged to travel to Chiredzi and this discourages some of them from visiting even health institutions.”
His Chiredzi West counterpart Cde Farai Msikavanhu weighed in saying there was need for Government to consider dispatching more buses to Chiredzi as over 20 000 workers in the Lowveld sugar industry were only serviced by pirate vehicles.
“We have nearly 25 000 workers in the sugar industry with some working for private farmers in Mkwasine, Triangle and Hippo Valley.
“They are currently being serviced by pirate taxis a development which has seen the cost of traveling to and from Chiredzi Town getting to dear,” he said.
“We have villagers in Ward 27 and 28 of my constituency. They have been clamouring for Government to introduce the Zupco bus system as the reliance on private transport was very expensive and unsustainable.”
In Chiredzi South, the local legislator Retired Brigadier General Kalisto Gwanetsa said Government should revive the Zimpost bus introduced three years ago and boost the fleet by adding more ZUPCO buses.
“From my end we only have one reliable operator named Chiwara and the company is just serving one major route from Chiredzi to Chikwalakwala. We however have routes which pass through Sango border post, in areas like Gwaseche, Majijimba and Old Boli. They deserve a bus that would ease transport blues,” he said.
Chiredzi Rural District council acting chief executive Mr Mikia Majatame said his council was planning to have new roads and revamp existing road infrastructure to attract more bus operators in rural parts of the district.