Leroy Dzenga Herald Reporter
Private bus and commuter omnibus operators whose vehicles have been suspended since the beginning of the lockdown have sent a distress call to Government seeking to return to business to alleviate the current transport challenges in the country.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Engineer Joel Biggie Matiza confirmed that transporters had reached out to his office with their grievances.
The Minister called for patience as the Government was still assessing the request.
“The President said we will continue reviewing the situation. As it stands now, it is a lockdown so they have to wait until a time we open up intercity travel. We stand guided by His Excellency on how to proceed,” Minister Matiza said.
Zimbabwe Passenger Transport Organisation secretary-general, Mr Wilfred Chibage painted a gloomy picture of their current situation of transport operators.
“In urban areas we have been working with ZUPCO but we have more buses that are parked. As lockdown adjustments are being made, we are seeing more need for inter-city travel as people are now risking their lives travelling in trucks and private vehicles. We have school children returning to their schools as well as people travelling between cities for business. We can come in and ease the pressure, the resources are there,” said Mr Chibage.
The Herald also has a copy of a letter from kombi operators as a collective, pleading with Government to consider the plight of those who cannot be accommodated by the ZUPCO franchise.
“The ZUPCO franchise programme so far accommodates about 500 kombis but outside this programme there are over 50 000 kombis nationwide and over 15 000 in Harare alone and all employing or dependent upon over 800 000 people directly or indirectly.
“We believe those left out are still useful in the servicing of the rest of the commuters left outside the most vulnerable group that is ably subsidised for by the ZUPCO programme,” read part of the letter.
Speaking to The Herald, Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (Ghaco) secretary-general Mr Ngoni Katsvairo said the ideal situation would be for commuters to have a choice between them and ZUPCO.
There are an estimated 50 000 kombis in the country, and ZUPCO at the moment has accommodated around 1000 kombis.