City of Mutare says it is losing potential revenue after the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) took over all bus termini in the city.

The bus termini used to be operated by private commuter operators who paid council towards their use.

The introduction of the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 however saw government suspend the operation of privately owned commuter omnibus while returning the urban transport monopoly to state owned Zupco.

City deputy mayor Kudakwashe Chisango told a socioeconomic rights forum which was organised by Ledriz in conjunction with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) that local bus termini used to be a cash cow for the local authority as private operators would pay annual licence fees to council.

The funds would often be channelled towards roads and infrastructure rehabilitation.

The city father said ZUPCO has failed to pay a penny to council, making it difficult for the authority to repair the infrastructure at the termini.

“It is now the rain season and as council, we are failing to provide sheds to our ratepayers the reason being Zupco is failing to pay licence fees towards the use of the ranks.

“The private operators used to pay a yearly fee to the local authority which was then used to rehabilitate roads and maintain the infrastructure at the terminuses,” said Chisango, who is also councillor for Ward 18.

He said Zupco was responsible for paying for its franchisee, adding, “they want to hide behind a finger”.

“What we know is that private operators are now under Zupco franchise and we expect the parastatal to own up to its obligation.

“The local authority is in need of revenue to develop the infrastructure across the city and therefore, cannot divert revenue from elsewhere to finance and maintain the ranks being operated by ZUPCO,” said the deputy mayor.

He said the local authority has since engaged the parastatal on the issue.

“We have written to them several occasions, even the ministry, highlighting our plight without getting any positive response from them. Our streets and terminuses are now flooded with Zupco franchisees but they are not remitting any revenue to the council,” said Chisango.

Meanwhile, locals who use the Zupco service everyday said a year down the line, they are still not convinced the mass transportation system is being effective, as they continue to experience challenges.

Commuters told that the parastatal should remove some old buses from the road as they were evidently not fit and safe for public transportation as proven by their frequent breakdowns.

Unveiling the first batch of buses imported by the government from Belarus in July last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa assured the nation that transport problems were going to be a thing of the past.

“These challenges of public transport will now be a thing of the past. Government will ensure that more buses come in and ease these challenges especially in urban areas where commuter omnibus operators were causing untold suffering to the people by wantonly hiking their fares,” he said.

But commuters argued that despite Mnangagwa`s assurances, the situation on the ground has not changed for any better.

Credit: New Zimbabwe

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