At least 500 buses are set to be assembled locally in the next 12 months after a bus operating organisation and a manufacturing entity signed an agreement yesterday to start the project next month, in a development expected to save foreign currency and create over 10 000 jobs.
Amalgamated Bus Industries constituted by some bus operators and bus assemblers in Zimbabwe, signed an agreement yesterday that will see the procurement of kits that will be assembled locally.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister Mike Madiro, who was guest of honour at the signing ceremony, commended the two entities saying their agreement will give impetus to Government's economic blueprint, National Development Strategy 1 aimed at achieving Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy.
Deputy Minister Madiro said the agreement was consistent with the Second Republic's thrust of having a private sector-led economy, in which with the Government provides an enabling environment.
He added that the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa was playing its part after it embarked on a national road rehabilitation programme both in urban and rural areas.
"The majority of our people are in the rural areas, which is 70 percent, but it is less attractive in terms of road network," he said.
"That is why the President has embarked on road rehabilitation so that you use better roads, so the President is on it.
"The vision of the New Dispensation is to move away from the public sector to a private sector-led economy.
"So it is you the private sector who should be leading the drive."
Deputy Minister Madiro described the agreement by the two entities as exciting as it dovetails with Government's thrust of empowering indigenous people.
"We are our own liberators. The economy was dominated by our erstwhile oppressors.
"So it is important that we are competitive given the modernity of our society. We are in a global village," said Deputy Minister Madiro.
Amalgamated Bus Industries chief executive officer, Mr Fungai Makoni described the agreement as a milestone.
"The bus industry has answered Government's call for local manufacturing of products. It is a milestone that will save about 50 percent of foreign currency that we are using in importing buses.
"There will also be job creation up to downstream industry. Currently, the bus industry employs more than 21 000 people and this figure is expected to rise," said Mr Makoni.
He implored Government to revive the steel industry saying it plays a pivotal role in the bus industry.
Amalgamated Bus Industries executive chairperson, Mr Kurauone Sibanda said under the agreement, their organisation will import bus kits that would be delivered to bus assemblers in Zimbabwe who will then manufacture the buses.
"Our initial plan is to have at least 500 buses for the local market. We will also manufacture buses for the region. In the long run it will reduce the demand for foreign currency and downstream industry will benefit," said Mr Sibanda.