BY TAPFUMANEI MUCHABAIWA/HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
GOVERNMENT yesterday admitted that the public is facing transport challenges and that the State-owned Zupco is failing to meet demand.
In 2020, the government banned private commuter omnibus operators, and directed them to join the Zupco franchise under the pretext of controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Addressing journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said: “Government is concerned about the inconvenience caused to travellers by the shortage of transport. Zupco is engaging private operators in order to ensure the safety of our travelling public. Government has not banned operations by private operators, but these must be roadworthy.”
The commuting public, including students has been left stranded after police and other government agencies recently launched an operation against private commuter omnibus operators and unregistered vehicles.
Over 3 000 motorists have been nabbed, police said.
Mutsvangwa, however, dodged questions on police officers posing safety risks to travellers by throwing spikes, endangering the lives of commuters as what happened in Mutare yesterday when four people died .
“The government noted with concern the proliferation of unlicensed transporters. Police will enforce the law without fear or favour,” she said.
The admission that Zupco is failing to meet demand comes after Parliament called on Local Government minister July Moyo to issue a ministerial statement on the transport challenges being faced by commuters.
“At the height of lockdown the government introduced Zupco transport model…but Zupco has demonstrated incapacitation,” Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya said.
“Now that we have eased lockdown regulations I move that the Local Government minister, who is in charge of Zupco comes to Parliament with a ministerial statement to interrogate so that we — allow private operators to be able to satisfy three conditions namely availability of transport, affordability and safe travel.”
Meanwhile, Mutsvangwa said there were enough maize stocks to feed the nation despite poor rains and supply chain disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The geopolitical developments in Eastern Europe coupled with COVID-19 pandemic are weighing heavily on the logistical and financial aspects of commodity supply chains, and this is affecting fuel, fertilizers and wheat supply systems, including the price determination mechanisms,” Mutsvangwa said.