Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
Another 33 buses were yesterday handed over to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to ferry civil servants, more than doubling its fleet, at a ceremony attended by President Mnangagwa who promised to prioritise the welfare of civil servants.
The new buses will be distributed around the country, with Harare getting seven, Bulawayo six, Manicaland three, Midlands three, Masvingo three, Matabeleland North two, Matabeleland South two, Mashonaland West two, Mashonaland Central two, Mashonaland East two, with the 33rd reserved for the PSC Head Office.
Last August, 25 buses were commissioned for the PSC fleet and President Mnangagwa said he had received a lot of positive feedback.
“Today, we are gathered here again to commission an additional 33 buses for integration into the Public Service Commission fleet,” he said.
“Our aim is to steadily grow the fleet until such a time that all routes are covered. At this pace, I am confident that there will not be much delay in the attainment of the goal.
“While we all know that resources do impose constraints, Government recognises the transport needs of its workers to be a high priority, and has been making conscious choices among competing demands on the fiscus.”
President Mnangagwa said Government is moving towards full empowerment of its workforce.
“Let me hasten to say that transport issues are not only limited to the civil service, but the whole transport system has to be improved,” he said.
“The challenges facing the national transport sector remain a major preoccupation of Government, given the sector’s central role in the economy.
“As part of efforts to address these challenges, Government is refocusing the National Transport Policy, while new strategies are being pursued to speed up ongoing transport infrastructural development projects. This is why we have another programme where we are bringing in buses of similar nature to serve the general public.
“A week ago, ZUPCO added to its fleet another 65 new buses to assist the public with reliable and affordable transport. This follows on the initial batch of buses that came at the very beginning of this programme. We can see that people are finding relief and our concern right now is to keep acquiring more so as to satisfy the existing demand.”
President Mnangagwa said the provision of affordable transport was part of a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring decent livelihoods for civil servants through a continuous review of their conditions of service.
He said the initiatives included the recently launched Government Employees Mutual Savings Fund, which will assist workers to save, and to get access to cheap financing for their various personal projects.
“Government has committed to providing seed money of between $100 million and $200 million for the fund,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Other non-monetised benefits include affordable housing, access to State land and duty-free vehicles.
“All these strides we are making in a difficult environment that is characterised by climate change and perpetual droughts, restrictions on access to affordable international financing and a regime of unwarranted sanctions that punishes the generality of our people.
“Regardless of all these challenges, my Government continues to make steady progress towards ensuring that all workers’ needs are taken care of.”
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said what was critical was to make sure that all civil servants in rural areas were catered for.
“As the chairman of the Public Service Commission has mentioned, this is exactly what we do in order to support our hardworking civil servants.
“We make sure that they can strive to put food on the table, that they can take their children to school and we will make sure that they work harder to provide health care for them.
“But today we want to make sure that they can get to the work place,” he said.
PSC chairman Dr Vincent Hungwe said the buses will provide sustainable and affordable transport for civil servants in cities, towns and rural areas.
“The savings they achieve represent a direct subsidy that increase their disposable incomes,” he said.
“The Civil Service Buses Transport Fund introduced by your Government continues to grow and today we add another 33 buses to its fleet.
“The ultimate goal is to achieve full coverage to ensure that rural workers are not excluded, particularly in view of the need for them to travel to service centres, towns and cities when the need arises.”
Dr Hungwe said the buses represented one of their many responses to create, “an empowerment public service capable of leading and propelling sustainable and inclusive social and economic growth for all citizens of Zimbabwe.”