BY MOSES MATENGA
GOVERNMENT was yesterday forced to concede failure and apologise after thousands of commuters were left stranded in Harare on Friday due to transport challenges following a government decision to ground all public transport vehicles not registered with Zupco.
Private vehicles were also prohibited from carrying hitchhikers with police impounding offenders’ vehicles, while arresting and making passengers pay a
$2 000 spot fine.
Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana yesterday said the chaos was regrettable and apologised following a huge national outcry.
“We realised the difficulties faced by the commuting public yesterday as they tried to find their way home. It’s not the intention of the government to inconvenience citizens. A lasting solution to our urban transport woes is being implemented. We are sorry for the inconveniences experienced,” Mangwana said.
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa said the chaos was a manifestation of the failure by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, adding the government was now taking people for granted.
“Don’t abuse people, don’t disrespect people and don’t take people for granted,” Chamisa told The Standard yesterday.
“Don’t exploit the people’s patriotism and love for peace. They have failed and they have to bring back kombis as we plan for an effective public transport system,” Chamisa said.
He said the move by the government to ban commuter omnibuses was to enable corruption in the public transport sector and has also taken thousands out of employment.
“We now have thousands out of employment. Elsewhere, governments create employment yet in Zimbabwe, the government dwindles the opportunities for the people.”
Last week, our sister publication, The Zimbabwe Independent under the Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) stable, took the government to court demanding information on the murky purchase of Zupco buses from China last year.
The deal has led to speculation that individuals were benefitting from purchasing Zupco buses and selling them to the government at inflated prices.
Zupco yesterday invited individuals willing to join their public transportation franchise to join them but observers pushed back, saying the monopoly must come to an end.
“We invite all urban transport operators yet to join the Zupco franchise to do so. Approach your nearest Zupco office where you will get assistance to join the Zupco family as prescribed by law,” a statement from Zupco read in part.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa said: “You have messed up our public transport. Just let others provide public transport and you compete with them if you can.”
Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume said the government’s insistence to maintain Zupco dominance was raising eyebrows.
“It is very suspicious how the government is insisting on making Zupco the only service provider. Already serious questions loom around the procurement process of new Zupco buses,” he said.
MDC Alliance secretary for transport Settlement Chikwinya said the fining of commuters and vehicle owners for ferrying passengers was senseless given Zupco’s ineptitude.
“What government needs to realise is that the Zupco registered vehicles are too few as compared to the demand by travellers. This, therefore, means that faced with a crippling shortage of transport, travellers will resort to private players.”