BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has described the re-introduction of Zupco buses for urban commuter transport as running against its public transport policy (PTP) adopted in 2011.
Government recently introduced the long-forgotten Zupco buses, in conjunction with private partners, following the January 14 protests over fuel price hikes that had seen commuter fares trebling.
However, Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni said government should have engaged the local authority before introducing the buses, saying the initiative was disruptive to its PTP.
Currently, the Zupco buses do not have loading and off-loading bays in the central business district, a situation that has seen them competing for bays with unregistered pirate taxis.
“It was wrong for us as a city to wake up to the sound of buses, without being afforded an opportunity to plan for the coming in of those buses onto our roads. Bulawayo is known for its orderly planning and we are not prepared to compromise on that,” Mguni said.
“They can’t be operating like pirate taxis in town. We need to designate pick-up and drop-off points for them. We, however, thank central government for alleviating the plight of our people by complementing our existing transport policy.”
According to recent minutes of the council town, lands and planning committee, councillors admitted that the local authority was fighting a losing battle against pirate taxis that had set up several illegal pick-up points in the city.
BCC in 2011 came up with a PTP, which calls for, among others, having time-tables to ensure an efficient and reliable public transport system.
It bars individuals from providing public transport to guarantee a controlled and organised transport system that ensures the safety of residents.
Under the policy, only vehicles registered under a company are allowed to provide public transport in the city.
Currently, there are three registered commuter omnibus companies; Tshova Mubaiwa Co-operative, Bulawayo City Transport Trust and Bulawayo United Public Transport Association.