Friday 26 March 2021


Transport woes continue to mount for Bulawayo residents who have to use Zupco buses and kombis which are the only legalised form of transport since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country last year.

Government decreed that all public transporters should be registered under the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco).

Since the beginning of lockdown, only Zupco registered buses and kombis are allowed to transport commuters in terms of Covid-19 prevention regulations. The buses and kombis are however, few, causing transport shortages across the city.

They have also proven to be unreliable, making them undesirable for many commuters. The situation seems to have worsened following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions recently.

More people have resumed work and schools have been opened to learners, raising demand for transport.

Mr Chamu Mlingwa from Emabhizeni in Nkulumane 12 suburb said getting transport has been difficult as only a few Zupco buses operate in his area.  

“The situation has become unbearable. The Zupco buses operating here are so few so much that you can wait for transport at the bus stop for over an hour,” said Mr Mlingwa. He said on some days, he is expected to be at work by 7.30AM but the bus only shows up at 9AM.

“It is such a huge inconvenience,” said Mr Mlingwa. The disgruntled commuter said the situation has been worsened by the opening of schools as more people have to wait for the same bus.

He said the Zupco kombis, which would make a good alternative, were scarce in his neighbourhood.

Nkulumane 12 suburb has not been the only suburb hit by transport shortages. Residents from Richmond suburb have also had to endure the same inconvenience. According to Ms Sikhangele Nyoni from Richmond suburb, only one bus is operating in the area.

The bus is only available at 6AM and its last trip is at 3PM, when it ferries residents from town back to Richmond.

Many are forced to hike or walk in the hours in-between 6AM and after 3PM. As a result, many assaults and cases of theft have been reported in the area.

A snap survey showed that transport challenges were worse in areas further away from the central business district. Only a few buses service these areas, which have proven to have failed to meet the transport needs of commuters.

Mr Ringo Ncube from Pumula South suburb said mornings have become a nightmare due to the transport challenges.

“We have very few buses operating in this area. This makes it hard for us to get to town and carry out our daily activities. Especially now that schools have opened. It seems like many buses have turned to other routes where there are many learners who need to be taken to different schools,” said Mr Ncube.

He said commuters in his area sometimes seek the services of pirating commuter omnibuses which are also unreliable.

Mr Ncube said Government should consider bringing back commuter omnibuses that are not registered under Zupco so as to solve the transport shortages across the city.

Mr Nkosi Ncube from Mpopoma suburb echoed the same sentiments saying Government must make provisions for private operators so they can be allowed back on the roads.

He said due to the transport shortages, bus operators are sometimes forced to carry more passengers than they should to accommodate as many people as possible in one trip.

This raises alarm as failure to adhere to Covid-19 health regulations such as maintaining social distance may result in a third wave of the pandemic.

Commuters implored the Government to provide more buses in the city with some specifically allocated to learners while the rest can be used by everyone else adding that allowing private transport operators back on the road would ease the current transport challenges. Chronicle


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