ZUPCO Monopoly Challenged

Zimbabwe United Passenger Company’s monopoly in the transport sector came under the spotlight as stakeholders criticised the monopolization of the transport system and called for a moratorium on the ban on private players.

A discussion on Skyz Metro FM revealed that the ZUPCO monopoly continues to be a hot potato issue among commuters who are grappling with transport blues as the parastatal struggles to cope with demand. ZUPCO’s stranglehold on the transport system has also rendered a significant number of citizens jobless due to the ban on kombis.

Executive Secretary for Administration of Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), Thembelani Dube said the association is concerned by ZUPCO’s dominance in the public transport system which has resulted in dire consequences for private players.

“We are concerned with the ZUPCO monopoly which has deprived a lot of people of their salaries. When you look closely at the impact of the ban on private kombis, you will realize that not only were the kombi associations, drivers and touts affected but their families too,” said Dube.

Dube added there is nothing special about ZUPCO buses’ adherence to Covid 19 protocols as they operate the same way as private kombis. He pointed out that some ZUPCO buses are as inconsistent as private kombis in sanitising commuters’ hands. He argued that “there is no difference between ZUPCO and private kombis in relation to them making efforts to curb the spread of COVID19 as he said ZUPCO sanitize passengers whenever they want and there are times that they do not sanitize at all while carrying passengers at full capacity.”

He took a swipe at Zupco bus drivers who cause confusion by arbitrarily chopping and changing routes in addition to timetables which are not properly fixed. “These buses do not have have convenient stops like private operators used to have therefore commuters end up walking long distances to their respective residences after disembarking from the bus,” he added.

Dube further expressed concerns on the state of some Zupco vehicles, alleging that they are not being well serviced and hence pose danger to the commuting public. “Some of the vihecles are not roadworthy and that on its own jeopardizes the public’s safety when using such transport,” he said.

Speaking on the same show, Member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Transport and Infrastructure Development, Honourable Phelela Masuku shared the same sentiments with Dube. He further argued that ZUPCO’s instabilities are not a new thing and that it has always had its fair share of problems long before its establishment as a monopoly. He said, ” ZUPCO has always had its own problems even before the monopolization.”

Masuku also asserted that the government maintains a firm grip and has unbridled control over the transport sector which makes it hard for other stakeholders to have a say in the running of the sector. Masuku was scathing in his assessment of ZUPCO as he dismissed the entity as a monumental failure, adding that it was inappropriate to work with a company that was already failing on its own. He said, “ZUPCO is and has always been a failure. Remember it was one of the companies that was supposed to be liquidated.”

While admitting that he does not see private kombis making a return any time soon, Masuku encouraged private kombi associations to petition Parliament on the issue to air their grievances. He also said it is a matter of regret that the private operators are the ones that have suffered substantial losses following the monopolization of the sector.

Dube passionately appealed for the bouncing back of private kombis as he emphasised that private kombis and ZUPCO buses can co-exist and complement each other. “We are not calling for the eradication of ZUPCO but we as citizens want to see different transport stakeholders so that we may be able to choose which transport we want to board. It is our right to choose,” he said.

While contributing to the show some Bulawayo residents raised their concerns about the embargo on private transport, saying that they have been struggling to get transport to and from work. “The status quo has forced people to walk from work to their respective homes, putting their lives at risk in the process”, said one of the residents.

Dube made a suggestion on the reintroduction of private transport operators on condition that they are all registered by Transport Associations. “This will enhance easier management and also make sure that Covid 19 regulations are fully adhered to as it will be the Associations’ duty to monitor the private transport operators’ operations,” he added.

Most contributing residents agreed with Dube’s suggestion on the reintroduction of private transport operators. They also implored government to act swiftly and restore sanity in the transport sector.

Source: Community Podium

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