Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter
Harare City Council has entered into negotiations with an Indian company, Passenger Utility Transport Company (PUTC) Pvt Ltd, for the supply of 500 65-seater buses worth $58 million.
This is part of the city’s efforts to reintroduce urban mass transport system meant to de-congest the city, reduce transport costs for workers as well as gradually phase out the small 18-seater kombis.
Former Council Business Committee chairperson Councillor Herbert Gomba, who presided over the deliberations, said the Indian firm — PUTC — had a working relationship with TATA Motors from the same country.
“The whole idea is to reintroduce the urban mass transport system. We used to have the Harare Omnibus Company, which catered for the transport needs of the public.
“This system is cheap and ensures that residents are taken to their exact destinations unlike what is happening with the commuter omnibuses. We also want to de congest the Central Business District as we will phase out commuter omnibuses gradually,” he said.
Although due diligence is still underway, city officials say the city buses would charge far much less than $1 and $0.50 for long trips such Chitungwiza and Mabvuku and shorter routes respectively. According to recent minutes of the Business Committee, Acting Town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube, tabled a proposal for the city to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with PUTC on provision of Bus Transport service in the city.
“The company intended to source 500 sixty-five seater buses from TATA Motors of India at an estimated cost of $58 million. This would be financed through a line of credit from India Export-Import Bank, subject to the availability of the sovereign guarantee from the Government of Zimbabwe.
“The acting town clerk further reported that PUTC would facilitate the provision of buses supported by TATA and the service routes as allocated by the City of Harare, with the city also providing the current public transport infrastructure,” reads part of the minutes.
A special purpose vehicle would be formed for the purposes of consummating the joint venture.
The shareholding structure would be determined on the basis of each party’s equity contribution subject to an independent professional evaluation.
Mrs Ncube requested council’s authority to enter into an MoU to facilitate further evaluation of the technical and financial aspects of the proposed joint venture through a due diligence process.
The committee appreciated the proposal, saying it would result in the effective and efficient provision of public transport to Harare residents and called for speedy conclusion of the negotiations and implementation of the project.
Council authorised the town clerk to enter into the MoU to facilitate a comprehensive due diligence exercise on the proposed joint venture and to ensure speedy conclusion of negotiation and implementation of the project.
The initiative of transporting people by buses was successful when Zupco was plying all the City routes and most residents have been calling for the re-introduction of the buses.
In 2013 Zupco said it was going to reintroduce the Harare-intra urban transport system, but the initiative is yet to be implemented.