Ivan Zhakata-Herald Correspondent
Private bus companies have imported 150 buses using the zero-duty concession set by Government to complement efforts in improving public transport system.
Private operators expect to double the number by year end. New buses are already on suburban routes and the operators hope that passengers will be dumping mushikashika and switching to their modern buses.
Under the special duty concession, Government suspended customs duty on the import of up to 20 public service buses by a single authorised dealer, essentially a single company. But there are many companies so the total adds up.
Transporters under the Zimbabwe Passenger Transporters Organisation (ZPTO) have imported 150 buses so far under the duty-free concession.
Government itself has been rebuilding the Zupco fleet over the past three years and has imported hundreds of buses.
These have been distributed around the country to give the public more options and to ensure that there is growing competition to force private operators to upgrade their own services, modernise their fleets and stop profiteering.
The concept is now working with the liberalisation of regulated private operators and the duty concession helping these to upgrade their own fleets.
The combination of a growing Zupco and better private operators is seen as necessary to build the sort of public transport that is needed under Vision 2030 to become an upper-middle-income economy.
ZPTO chairman Dr Sam Nanhanga thanked President Mnangagwa for suspending duty on buses and vowed to complement Government efforts in the transport sector.
“We want to thank the President for introducing the duty free system on importing buses,” he said.
“As an association we have managed to import 150 buses so we are coming back to Government so that we have a robust mass transportation system in the city. We have already started plying intra-city routes using the new buses. All suburbs countrywide we are deploying more buses as they come in.’’
“We have partnered other associations like the Passengers Association of Zimbabwe for the passengers in a campaign for passengers to avoid mushikashika. We have bought 150 buses to improve the transport system and we hope that by the end of the year we will double the number.
Dr Nanhanga also thanked the Minister of Local Government and Public Work July Moyo for giving their association power to control and to disempower touts so that they can have a better way of carrying passengers.
Dr Esau Mupfumi, another ZPTO member, echoed the same sentiments and said they were ready to complement Government efforts in carrying passengers across the city and the nation at large.
He, however, lamented vandalism of some new buses by thugs and pleaded with the police to take action against such acts.
“There are now few accidents because of the roads rehabilitation which is underway countrywide,” he said.
“Our challenge is that buses are being stoned and we do not know what is going on. Windscreens and windows are being damaged and we would like the police to look into the issue.
“We want to contribute to the President’s Vision 2030 of attaining upper-middle-income society. Our buses are of high quality and we want to complement Zupco efforts.”