via $25m loan to recapitalise Zupco — Chombo 24 July 2014
LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday told Parliament that the government had secured a $25 million loan facility to enable the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) to beef up its fleet and take charge of all urban routes.
Chombo told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government that he was working in close liaison with Transport minister Obert Mpofu to phase out commuter omnibuses plying urban routes and bring sanity into the public transport sector.
He said the loan facility had been secured from Exim Banks of India and China.
“The ministry has put in place strategies to create order and reduce congestion and pollution in urban areas, and a $25 million loan facility from the Exim banks of India and China will enable purchase of a 65-seater high volume buses which will allow the transport sector to move from the commuter omnibuses to high volume buses,” said Chombo.
“In my view — from the situation on the ground — we need to do a national policy study on transport to determine what mode of transport we need in Zimbabwe compared to what is happening in other countries,” he said.
Chombo said Zupco’s problems emanated from stiff competition posed by commuter omnibuses.
“Historically, Zupco was established in urban areas during the colonial era to transport black workers to factories and it was a monopoly. The companies and Rhodesian government used to subsidise it and it was easy for them to make money.”
He added: “During the 1970s it had 2 800 buses and had few competitors who plied rural routes. There were less than
20 000 vehicles in Harare, but now there are more than a million and people are using private transport. Stiff competition from commuter operators also affected them.”
“The issue of the Zupco debt should be taken over by government as was done with other parastatals such as Air Zimbabwe and the National Railways of Zimbabwe,” said Chombo.
Acting Zupco chief executive officer Tendai Masaire recently told Parliament that the Zupco debt stood at $19,7 million and culminated from unpaid debts to workers and creditors and pension deficits.