Commuters continue to face transport challenges, especially in Harare, despite the injection of an additional 65 buses into the urban transport system by the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) recently.
ZUPCO acting chief executive officer Mr Everisto Madangwa told The Herald that 40 buses were injected on Monday last week while 25 more were fed into the system on Tuesday.
The total number of ZUPCO buses currently plying Harare routes is 445 and a similar number of ZU[CO-affiliated commuter omnibuses (kombis.)
However, commuters still face challenges to travel to and from the city centre.
The situation worsened from Monday when many people needed to travel to various pick-up points ahead of school opening, while others needed to accompany their children to their schools.
On Monday, some bus drivers said the high demand for transport could have been occasioned by the fact that it was a public holiday and most transporters had given their staffers an off day hoping it would not be too busy.
But there were reports that ZUPCO-affiliated kombis had partially withdrawn their services due to non-payment of their dues on time by the company.
There were also concerns that the transport operators wanted ZUPCO to review their daily takings.
After schools opened on Tuesday, the demand for transport has spiked and commuters are battling to get in and out of the city.
Asked by The Herald if ZU[PCOo was facing any challenges resulting in people struggling to get transport, Mr Madangwa said:
We are not. People should go to designated pick-up points if they need transport. Zupco does not stop at Jameson (Hotel), it does not stop at Zesa, Total (Service Station along Samora Machel Avenue). Zupco does not stop along Julius Nyerere Way or at the Flyover or at ZBC (Mbare Studios); it stops at designated pick up points only.
On Monday last week, I injected 40 buses into Harare and today (Tuesday), I injected 25 buses into Harare. When our inter-city buses return to Harare, they also ply urban routes to ensure everyone is ferried home.
He also refuted claims by commuters that ZUPCO was rarely available after 5 pm saying the claims were unfounded as they only “knock-off after clearing everyone”.
He said there is often congestion at pick hours which means that it takes longer for a bus to return to town from residential areas, “but we don’t desert bus termini until we clear people,” he said.
Madangwa also said they were working to “clear the ZUPCO-affiliated kombi arrears” and everything would be fine soon.
When The Herald visited Copacabana, Market Square, Charge Office and Simon Vengayi Muzenda bus terminuses between 3 pm and 6 pm, many people could be seen waiting patiently for the buses.
The government banned private-owned kombis in 2020 plunging the country into a public transport crisis. They had become the main public transport in recent years.
More: The Herald