A consortium of local bus operators has partnered with car assemblers -- AVM Africa and Quest Motors to start the assembling of local buses in a bid to solve the country's transport woes.
This is part of the government's efforts to promote the consumption of local products and create employment.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between Amalgamated Bus Operators of Zimbabwe, bus assembler AVM Africa and Quest Motors, a vehicle manufacturing company based in the eastern city of Mutare, Transport deputy minister Mike Madiro said the move was aimed at supporting local industries by government and would boost the economy.
"We, as government, should support local industries in our vehicle sourcing and also in bus manufacturing. We will see more of this happening over time," Madiro said.
In addition to creating employment, the assembling of buses locally is also expected to have ripple effects on the economy since a substantial amount of materials would be sourced locally.
It is envisaged that 500 buses will be assembled annually and the group says it will create opportunities for the regional market.
Since the Covid-19 induced lockdown, the government outlawed the use of privately-owned commuter omnibuses on urban routes in a bid to restore sanity in the public transport system and to provide affordable transport to the commuting public.
The state-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) has monopoly to provide urban public transport.
However, the Zupco fleet cannot meet the high demand, and has been operating with buses sourced from the private sector players under its franchise.
Under the deal, the amalgamated bus operators will import bus kits from Belarus and China and AVM Africa along with Quest Motors assembling the vehicles.
Quest has over the years assembled Volvo, Leyland and Nissan buses, and currently holds the franchise to build Chinese-owned Yutong and Zhong Tong buses.