Daniel Mhonda and Emmah Chinyamutangira
GOVERNMENT on Monday launched the urban mass transportation system in Mutare after it availed 40 Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) buses to ferry passengers to and from the Central Business District.
The buses, from various private bus operators, are plying urban and peri-urban routes such as Zimunya, Penhalonga, Odzi, Tsvingwe and Chigodora.
Mutare City Council has since ordered long-distance buses that were using the Jameson Bus Terminus (Old Harare rank) to relocate to Sakubva Musika Bus Terminus to give way for the Zupco buses.
Commuter omnibuses that were using Mudzviti Bus Terminus have been moved to Jameson Bus Terminus to pave way for the buses.
Speaking at the official launch of the programme at Mudzviti Bus Terminus, Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba said the programme was Government’s solution to end the abuse that commuters were being subjected to by kombi operators.
“Government has the responsibility to protect citizens from any form of abuse,” she said.
“This programme is there to protect the people of Zimbabwe to address the transport challenges that commuters are facing.
“The exorbitant fares that the kombi operators are charging do not correspond with the fuel price increases.
“This is a form of abuse and Government in collaboration with other private players then sat and discussed ways to provide affordable and safe transport for commuters.”
Dr Gwaradzimba challenged the city officials to play their part through road maintenance to ensure that the programme was successful.
“Mutare City Council, please help us on the issue of roads,” she said.
“We do not want a situation where these partners go under because of the bad roads. We want the roads to be repaired, if possible turn some of them into gravel roads which are safer to use.”
Commuters from Dangamvura, Hobhouse and Chikanga were paying between $1,50 and $2 per trip respectively, while those from Sakubva had to part with $1,50 per trip.
Residents from Greenside and Morningside at one point paid $2 for a distance of less than five kilometres, before the fares came down to $1 per trip last week.
ZUPCO general manager for the northern region Mr Tito Chirawu said the programme would be sustainable.
“I am happy transport operators here in Mutare like Matsatse, Mwayera, Tenda and Mupfumi are willing to help the people,” he said.
“We hope that we will be able to do away with the greedy kombi operators who are bent on fleecing the public.
“We have received the necessary support from Government to facilitate this programme for the good of the people. We are not going to shut down.”
Mr Chirawu said the buses would start ferrying passengers as early as 4am and there would be a bus leaving the pick-up points every 30 minutes.
Speaking at the same event, Mutare acting chief planning officer Mr Richard Simbi said the buses would use the usual pick up points and new terminus in new suburbs.