Zimbabwe government admitted on Wednesday that the public is facing transportation problems and that state-owned company Zupco is unable to meet demand.
The crisis emanates from a 2020 government directive banning private commuter bus operators and ordering them to join the Zupco franchise under the guise of controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The move has failed to yield any positive results with the commuting public being stranded for hours after law enforcement agencies recently launched an operation targeting private commuter bus operators and unregistered vehicles.
The country’s Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa made a frank admission on Wednesday of the transport crisis Zimbabwe is facing while addressing journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing.
“Government is concerned about the inconvenience caused to travellers by the shortage of transport. Zupco is engaging private operators in order to ensure the safety of our travelling public. Government has not banned operations by private operators, but these must be roadworthy,” said Mutsvangwa.
Meanwhile, the state media reported that commuters continue to face transport challenges, particularly in Harare, although Zupco added 65 more buses to the city’s public transport system over the past nine days.
Zupco acting chief executive officer Everisto Madangwa was quoted by The Herald saying 40 buses were unveiled to the market on Monday last week while 25 more were added on Tuesday.
Following the latest alleged addition the total number of Zupco buses plying Harare routes is now 445 with a similar number of Zupco-affiliated commuter omnibuses available for the market.
The transport crisis worsened from Monday when many people had to travel to different pick-up points as schools opened for second term, while others had to accompany their children to their schools.
On Monday, some bus drivers said the high demand for transport may have been due to the fact that it was a public holiday and that most transport companies had given their employees a day off in anticipation of low demand.
However, it was reported that Zupco-affiliated station wagons withdrew their services in part because the company failed to pay their dues on time.
There were also concerns that transportation companies would ask Zupco to review their daily earnings.
After schools opened on Tuesday, transport demand skyrocketed and commuters struggled to get in and out of the city.