Zupco brings back kombis Mr Madangwa

Nyore Madzianike Senior Reporter

Zupco is bringing its 500 franchised kombis back into operation, while the Government is allowing operators of conventional buses with valid operating permits to ferry people to and from work.

Since all formal sector businesses were allowed to reopen on Monday and lockdown movement restrictions were as a consequence relaxed, Zupco has been battling to move commuters to and from work, with people having to wait, at times, for several hours while others breached safety and lockdown rules by grabbing rides in trucks.

Zupco acting chief executive officer Mr Evaristo Madangwa said the commuter omnibuses started operating on Monday in Harare and Bulawayo with full operation expected throughout this week in other towns and cities.

“We have noted that after the announcement of Level 2 of the national lockdown, the number of people increased as they wanted to go to work. We then reintroduced those commuter omnibuses that were using the Zupco franchising system.

“There are about 500 commuter omnibuses and about 507 buses operating countrywide,” he said.

While many operators of conventional buses already have vehicles in the franchised Zupco fleet, unfranchised buses can now be put on the road so long as the operator has a valid operating permit.

Clarifying on who qualifies to be a public transporter and will be allowed to transport people during the lockdown, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana said anyone in the transport business with a valid permit was eligible to transport people to and from work.

President Mnangagwa last Friday announced Level 2 of the national lockdown where he said public buses would only be the mode of transport.

“Bus operators must ensure that their buses are disinfected twice daily, and that commuters wear masks, have their temperatures checked and hands sanitised before boarding buses. Social distancing must also be maintained within all buses,” he said.

But independent kombis and smaller taxis are not permitted to operate. Said Mr Mangwana: “The President has been very clear on the issue of buses. It is very clear that those in the transport business have not been stopped. They were not stopped from operating as long as they have operating licences.”

Mr Mangwana, however, said buses were not allowed to operate between cities. “Intercity movement is not allowed, meaning buses are not allowed to move from one city to the other,” he said.

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