The national Covid lockdown has come and gone and one of the supposed beneficiaries of the changes brought by government is nowhere near a viable state.
The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) is still a tottering state entity lurching from one day to the next, struggling to service the free and open market offered it and precariously hanging on but near death every day.
The command policy to push private transport operators into converting their buses into part of the ZUPCO fleet has also failed.
Sights of commuters fighting to get transport home every day from the CBD provides a stark reminder that markets are not operated guerrilla style.
Zupco has failed to provide adequate buses for the market leaving the gap open for the private operators who are now flooding the roads with private vehicles which are now operating against the law.
In 2020 government procured over 600 buses in a murky deal that saw President Mnangagwa’s close ally Kuda Tagwirei allegedly raking in millions of dollars in profit.
The government initially signed a hire purchase agreement with Landela Investments, but later agreed to pay ZWL$853,2 million (US$34.5million).
Landela allegedly bought the buses from China’s Xiamen Golden Dragon Bus Company for US58 900 Bbut sold them to the government for US$212 962.
Despite such hefty amounts of money being splashed on Zupco its quiet disconcerting that the company is still the same old parastatal of derelict buses and inefficient operations.
People are constantly stranded in the CBD as they cannot find transport after work and many have suffered the brunt of weather whilst waiting for the Zupco buses.
Worse-off the operator has failed to come up with systems to avert corruption and has constantly suffered losses as the workers devise ways to pilfer money.
In 2019 over 1000 workers were dismissed for allegedly pocketing money paid by commuters.
Caught in a web in which it is not growing or even managing, commuters have rightly abandoned all pretences of using the Zupco buses and now resort to private transport.
Every working day commuters line Samora Machel at Jameson Hotel and at Total Service station seeking for transshame.
It’s a sham for the government that its command plan to stamp out private transport operators has not just failed but they are refusing to face the reality and be practical about it.
This is despite the huge amounts of taxpayers’ money which has been sunk into Zupco.
It’s high time government conceded the failure of its project