Zimbabwe: President Gets Tough With Pirate Kombis

President Mnangagwa yesterday directed the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to continue manning security checkpoints to ensure that only designated transport operators such as the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company continue to be the provider of public transport system.

He said private transport operators had abused Government's empowerment initiatives extended to them over the years through charging unsustainably exorbitant fares and failure to provide good customer care.

President Mnangagwa said this in the capital while commissioning 50 more Zupco buses that will see the public utility's new fleet rising to 212.

"Over the years, our transport sector has been opened to private players as an empowerment initiative. This has, however, presented pertinent and unique challenges. Our commuting public have often been subjected to poor services, unsafe travel and unsustainable fare structures.

"Going forward, I urge players in the public transport sector to give due regard to safety, orderliness and good customer care within the sector, towards quality service delivery," said President Mnangagwa.

"In this regard, the Zimbabwe Republic Police must continue to enforce Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 with regards urban transport service provision."

Clause Two of SI 83 of 2020 reads as follows: "Transport services, whether intracity or intercity, for the carriage of passengers shall be restricted to those provided by -- (a) the parastatal company known as the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco); (b) omnibuses and other passenger service vehicles operated by or on behalf of the Public Service Association, the Police Service, the Defence Forces and the Civil Protection Authorities."

He urged Zupco management to distribute the new fleet in a manner that advances the devolution agenda and the realisation of inclusive socio-economic development which leaves no one behind.

President Mnangagwa said he was aware of the appeals for more buses from commuters in rural areas.

"The resource allocation in the 2021 National Budget statement will enable the purchase of more buses which will be distributed mainly to the marginalised rural areas," he said.

President Mnangagwa said he expected Zupco to use its national fleet as an effective platform for branding and communicating Government's national vision, development, aspirations and achievements.

"This is in keeping with our thrust to keep every citizen and region of our country informed, in line with my administration's quest to advance transparency and accountability in all tiers of Government," he said.

President Mnangagwa said it was opportune that yesterday's launch of 50 more buses came a few days after the national Covid-19 lockdown regulations were relaxed, allowing people to return to their respective economic activities.

As Zupco becomes an integral provider of public transport, said President Mnangagwa, Government had designated its employees as frontline workers and has included them in the voluntary, free and State-funded Covid-19 national vaccination programme.

President Mnangagwa noted that buses were also critical in reducing air pollution as they emitted less carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides compared with smaller vehicles.

The desire to lower emissions, said President Mnangagwa, was consistent with what was outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), under the climate action strategy.

He commended Zupco for its innovation when it introduced the tap card payment system in collaboration with Harare Institute of Technology.

He said he was pleased that the parastatal will soon unveil a prepayment ticket system to ensure efficiency.

Speaking at the same occasion, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said NDS1 identified the transport sector as a key enabler in the attainment of Vision 2030.

"Government has prioritised increased production and productivity," he said.

On his part, Zupco acting chief executive officer, Mr Everisto Madangwa said the transport utility has continued to expand its depots as the parastatal has now become a success story.

The event was attended by Cabinet ministers, stakeholders in the transport sector and senior Government officials.

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