Recent road accidents involving Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) buses in Bulawayo have raised the ire of residents who were already unhappy with the parastatal’s monopoly over urban public transport.
This comes after two ZUPCO buses were involved in separate road accidents in the city early this week.
On Monday evening a 33-year-old woman died on the spot while four other people were injured at Pick n Pay Hyper after a ZUPCO bus driver lost control of the bus and ploughed into people waiting for transport to take them home.
Then on Wednesday around 7 PM, one person died along Masiyephambili Drive while six others got injured in an accident involving a ZUPCO bus and a truck.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) secretary for administration, Thembelani Dube said:
The ZUPCO monopoly is not coping with the demand and as a result the servicing of those buses and kombis under the ZUPCO franchise is questionable, hence the unfortunate incidents that have occurred: one next to Pick n Pay and near Fambeki (Magetsini area) where precious lives were lost and some injured.
Allow all players to partake in providing the service to the commuting public.
The market forces will come into play and residents will always have the capacity to make their choices.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) coordinator, Khumbulani Maphosa, said most of the ZUPCO buses are not roadworthy. Said Maphosa:
Eight months ago, during a CITE interview, I said the ZUPCO idea was a disaster already happening and it looked like an unnecessary attack on the government policy by then.
Let’s face the reality, we don’t have a public transport system, this ZUPCO monopoly is a disaster already happening.
These buses are not serviced and I don’t understand why they are on the road and where is VID (Vehicle Inspection Department)?
Someone, there is sleeping on duty because the truth is these buses should not be on the road.
Maphosa called on the Government to devolve the public transport system by ending the ZUPCO monopoly.
Bulawayo United Residents Association (BURA) chairman Winos Dube also expressed concern over the recent accidents. He said:
The questions we are trying to find answers to are numerous, what’s the cause?
Could it be said that involved vehicles are not roadworthy? Are drivers not mentally sound for this critical service?.
All these are things we are made to assume are causes of these accidents that cost human lives at the end of the day.
We therefore as BURA call upon all involved in this transport industry to exercise extra caution as we do our work.
In March 2020, the Government banned private transport operators from serving urban routes thereby creating a ZUPCO monopoly ostensibly to curb the spread of the coronavirus.