By Michelle Chifamba
It is midday in summer time Harare and the heat is unbearable but the queuing passengers waiting for a Zupco at Copacabana have no option but to sweat in the line as the bus terminus no longer has roofing.
With Zupco having gone out of business so many years ago vandalism and theft have left the terminus as a ramshackle ghost assemblage of steel pipes, broken and bent with the asbestos long gone.
The situation at Copacabana is representative of termini at Market Square, Charge Office and Fourth Street all of which are characterised by falling metal bars that used to form the rails in the termini.
Some of the roofs, made from metal sheets hang loosely, supported with rusty nails which are about to fall.
The infrastructure at the bus-stations has suffered years of neglect by local authorities and vandalism from city dwellers.
Now that Zupco is back in business, as a crafty model subsidised by government mainly using buses from private companies, the commuters are suffering.
According to the commuters the City Council has to do something to improve the situation at these termini.
Sipping on her last drop of cold water a woman seemingly in her late 50s says there is need for the bus termini to be rehabilitated in the face of bad weather conditions.
“When coming from home you have to carry a sun-hat or an umbrella, a small cloth to seat on, water to drink because the hours that we spend waiting are too long,” said the woman.
“The buses have a certain time- table. They go for lunch around 12 midday and come back after 3 hours. Council should provide modern facilities at these termini such as seating areas with shades and are more secure,” she added.
Since the introduction of the buses there has not been any development at the termini being used by both the buses and the private commuter opersators causing congestion in the ranks.
Private transport operators in Harare have raised concern over City of Harare’s failure to maintain the ranks although the local authority collects money through rank disc fares.
Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators is on record stating that despite the huge sums of revenue being collected by Council from private commuter omnibus operators the local authorities has been failing to upgrade the termini by providing better shelter and security at the stations.
It alleged Council has been collecting rank disc fees from more than 10,000 commuter omnibus that use its ranks.
The operators pay ZWL$100 per term (3 months), and early this year commuters operators rejected renewal of the disc citing that Council was not providing any service on the ranks.
Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) Coordinator Tafadzwa Goliati said the City of Harare must come up with immediate solutions aimed at improving safety and security at most of the bus termini in the city.
“The bus termini in the city are in a state of neglect despite the City of Harare collecting a lot of revenue. There seems to be no accountability on how the revenue collected is being utilised”.
“They had promised to build a world class modern bus terminus at Mbudzi round-about and nothing has materialised with the contractor showing some level of corruption taking place.”
“The City of Harare must invest more money on improving the state of the bus termini or invite serious private stakeholders and companies that can build the bus termini which meet international standards,” Goliati said.
City of Harare says they are plans that have been put in place to invite private stakeholders to set up modern bus-termini shelters on most ranks.
City of Harare Corporate Communications Manager, Michael Chideme said, “The plans are there to refurbish the old infrastructure at the bus termini in the city”.
” We advertised a tender that closed last week inviting private stakeholders to bid for the renovations. The successful stakeholders will then provide modern shelters at the termini and get their money through adverts on the banners at the shelters.”
Chideme added that though Council had been collecting rank disc fares from private commuter omnibus operators the money has not been adequate to meet the demands of the maintenance at the termini, hence the need to introduce the private stakeholders.
Until all these plans are implemented the commuters will continue suffering the ills of a climate change induced heat that has everyone in a sweat.