Passenger safety our priority: Zupco

Source: Passenger safety our priority: Zupco | The Herald 16 DEC, 2019

Passenger safety our priority: ZupcoMr Madangwa

Zupco is withdrawing at least 42 franchised buses and commuter omnibuses that failed Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) tests until the owners have fixed the faults and been granted the required certificates.

Zupco is making 500 000 urban journeys a day, that is one-way trips on a single route, and moving around 100 000 passengers per day on its inter-city routes.

Our reporter Blessings Chidakwa (BC) caught up with Zupco acting chief executive Mr Evaristo Madangwa (EM) to get a clearer picture on the company’s operations.

BC: To start with, what is the current fleet of Zupco?

EM: Zupco is operating with 501 conventional buses, which include its own brand new fleet and those using its franchise, plus at least 470 kombis on contract countrywide.

BC: How many buses or commuter omnibus do you need to operate at maximum capacity?

EM: For starters we need 1 000 kombis and about 5 000 buses.

BC: When are you expecting the delivery of new Zupco fleet and how many?

EM: Early next year we are expecting a new fleet. In terms of the actual number, I cannot divulge at the moment, but will advise at the appropriate time.

BC: I understand way back Zupco used to operate without kombis, going forward when you have enough buses, will kombis still be contracted?

EM: Yes. Commuter omnibuses are a key strategy to our operations. In fact, we will increase them as they are convenient, especially in urban routes. So, kombis are well in our plans.

BC: At the moment, is Zupco still contracting buses and kombis?

EM: Yes, we are contracting, but of course only those that meet our requirements.

BC: What are your requirements Mr Madangwa because there has been a public outcry that some of the buses are defective? This is after one of the buses reportedly contracted by you had an accident a fortnight ago.

EM: On that Epworth bus which had an accident, let me put the record straight. That bus was never contracted with us. I was actually taken aback to read some online articles alleging that it was part of our fleet.

Going back to the issue of our requirements, there are basic things that are a must, which are fitness certificates from the VID, which must be renewed every six months. The buses must also have passenger and vehicle insurance.

BC: There is an issue which you highlighted on Thursday that you are now withdrawing defective buses. Can you shed more light on that?

EM: To ensure passenger safety which is one of our top priorities, we decided to take the bold step. When we contract the buses they will have fitness certificates which should be renewed regularly.  Some of the defective buses are being pulled out until they are attended to. The purpose of removing unroadworthy vehicles is that we want to ensure maximum safety for our passengers.

The exercise of withdrawing buses is ongoing where those that fall short of the requirements will in future be pulled out.

BC: But Zupco already has inadequate buses, will this not incapacitate your daily operations?

EM: I don’t think there would be an impact per se as the gap that will be created by the withdrawal of the buses will be filled by commuter omnibuses. Human life is sacrosanct so we cannot compromise on safety.

BC: Who is responsible for repairing the buses or commuter omnibuses which are being withdrawn?

EM: The owners of contracted Zupco fleet repair their own buses. After they have repaired their buses they should to go to the VID and ensure that their vehicles are issued with a certificate of fitness.  I understand inspections at the VID depots will cover all the components of the vehicle, as well as the under-carriage so as to ensure that the vehicle is safe for use on the roads. There are also basic checks that are carried out, including the steering system, suspension, brakes, wheels and tyres, trailer coupling (if applicable) and lighting system, vehicle and driver documents to ensure compliance with the law.

BC: What is the duration of contracts between Zupco and private firms?

EM: They have short-term renewable contracts of three months.

BC: Contracts for contracted buses can be terminated on what grounds?

EM: Contracts are terminated if contractual conditions are not fulfilled. These are clearly stated in the contract.