STRUGGLING Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) seeks to bounce back to its abandoned inner city routes in Bulawayo using the City Hall and Basch Street terminuses although the local authority has indicated that the bus company would not be given preferential treatment.
Instead, Zupco would “be treated like any other company trading in the public transportation”.
Zupco withdrew its fleet from urban routes at the turn of the millennium as its fleet size continued to dwindle to unsustainable levels.
The deregulation of the transport sector also “led to a free for all service as anyone with a public service vehicle was allowed to operate as long as they were licensed and abided by council by-laws”.
Zupco used to have a franchise arrangement with the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) enabling it to operate in the city and applied to council last September seeking to resume operations.
According to a council report, the director of engineering services Simela Dube told council in mid-February that Zupco had submitted an application letter dated September 26 2013 to resume its operations at the City Hall and Basch Street Terminus.
The company intended to have scheduled operations from the city centre to selected suburbs. The proposal was circulated to all relevant departments of the city council, said Dube.
The director of housing and community services responded, saying they had no objections and that Zupco would be allowed to operate at the City Hall as it provides an organised service.
Financial director Kimpton Ndimande said if Zupco was doing commuter operations, it would be charged using the appropriate rates and if it was to do intercity or regional, it would apply for a permit and be charged appropriate fees.
As part of the franchise arrangement, it stipulated the lease of ranks and terminuses and for council to provide lay byes, bus stops with Zupco paying for the lease of these premises.
It also indicated that council subsidised Zupco operations where it
was making losses to ensure that
they provided the service even during off-peak periods when business was low.
The franchise gave Zupco a virtual monopoly in public transport sector in the city.
“After deregulation, Zupco gradually pulled out of many routes. This led to a free for all service as anyone with a public service vehicle was now allowed to operate as long as they abided by council by-laws,” the report reads.
“This saw a disjointed approach to public transport provision and in
a bid to control this, council engaged all stakeholders to craft a public transport policy that aims to guide all activities in relation to public transport. It would be noted that council had adopted a public transport policy where two companies were to operate within the city,” read the report.