Bulawayo– The Mayor of Bulawayo has castigated central government for failure to consult Bulawayo City Council before introducing the ZUPCO mass public transport system following a crippling stay away that turned violent, destroyed property and left hundreds of people allegedly beaten and arrested by members of the security forces.
In his Facebook post he said. “For the record, the introduction of handful ZUPCO buses in the name of the so called ‘mass public transport system’ by central government without consulting the City of Bulawayo is a conflict with the city’s own elaborate transport policy and master plan.”
“Our town plans had not anticipated and did not allocate any bays to ZUPCO for picking and dropping passengers,” the Mayor added.
ZUPCO Acting CEO, Evaristo Madangwa, was quoted in the media saying that they had allocated 72 buses for Bulawayo, that will charge $1.00 for a distance less that 20kms and $2.00 for a distance over 20km. He said they had partnered with private players to bring a lasting solution to the transport challenges in the city.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) Acting Coordinator, Emmanuel Ndlovu, said the residents had welcomed the buses.
“Residents are hard hit by the languishing economy and high costs of commuter omnibuses coupled with arrogance of touts. ZUPCO has brought a great relief to residents. However we do not have information whether it is a stop gap measure, in our view it is likely to be short lived because some of these buses already have existing routes,” Ndlovu said.
Commenting on Twitter, Mlungisi Dube, a human rights activist based in the city, challenged the Mayor ‘s sentiments.
“I think the mayor must stop being petty, they should just allocate ZUPCO loading bays. People always cry that Bulawayo is marginalized then all of a sudden, you want to make consultation an issue? Are residents not happy about cheaper transport?” he quipped.
The Zimbabwe mass public transport system collapsed about three years ago when the government deregulated urban transport system to allow anyone with a large or small vehicles to carry public transport commuters.
The introduction of these ZUPCO buses comes at a backdrop of protests that were as a result of 150% fuel price hikes that were announced by President Mnangagwa on 12 January 2019. The transport situation had spiraled out of control. Reports emerged backed by images last week from Nketa Township saying that soldiers were assaulting commuter omnibus drivers and touts for charging $2.5 for a single trip.