Andile Tshuma Bulawayo Bureau
GOVERNMENT has promised to provide affordable transport to the commuting public during the festive season, with extra Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) buses to rein in private operators who fleece the public by hiking fares during high demand in the holiday season.
Responding to questions in the National Assembly last week, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said Government was alive to the plight of the commuting public.
He said the Government had since put both rural and urban long distance buses under the Zupco scheme to ensure the public has safer reliable and affordable transport.
Minister Matiza was responding to Zanu-PF proportional representative member Cde Perseverance Zhou who raised the issue of high commuter omnibus fares, particularly during the festive season.
“The Government is sensitive to the plight of the passengers that it has put in place a programme of acquiring new buses that will ply urban and rural routes.
“Such a programme is in progress as witnessed in Bulawayo and Matabeleland South. These programmes are going to continue to make sure that we ease the plight of passengers,” said Minister Matiza.
The Zupco scheme has expanded with over 400 kombis and 500 buses now operating under Zupco colours across the country.
Zupco CEO Mr Everisto Madangwa said the scheme sought to provide travelling convenience during the festive season.
“At the moment we have 516 buses and 410 kombis under the scheme countrywide.
“We are working on reaching our 1 000 kombi target and so far the progress made shows that we are heading there,” said Mr Madangwa.
“We aim to provide an uninterrupted commuter service during the festive season and affordable transport at a time when operators tend to hike fares drastically, prejudicing the travelling public.
“We are working on modalities to introduce a pre-booking system for intercity routes for the convenience of travellers so that we de-congest the system of acquiring tickets prior to boarding”.
Zupco Southern Region manager Mr Tinei Rwasoka said the pilot project for the intercity pre-booking service will be rolled out within the next few weeks, well before the peak of the festive season, with buses plying the Bulawayo-Harare and Bulawayo-Victoria Falls routes earmarked to use it.
Zupco said it is selling 500 000 one-way tickets a day in urban areas, meaning that around 200 000 people can commute by Zupco since commuters need at least two tickets to get from home to work and back and some need four if they have to change buses in the city centre.
Additionally, the bus company said it moves 100 000 passengers daily on its intercity routes, that is one-way trips between cities.