Mixed reaction to termination of Zupco contracts

Blessings Chidakwa-Herald Reporter

PASSENGERS yesterday expressed mixed feelings over reports that Zupco is terminating any remaining contracts with private bus companies.

ZUPCO wrote a letter last week to those companies which run some franchised services directing them that their contracts were set to expire on February 28, although negotiations are underway between the parties for possible reviewing of the decision.

Some passengers yesterday were shocked over what had gone wrong with the transport system.

ZUPCO had become their daily reliable mode of transport away from the mushika shika and marauding touts and rank marshals. 

A passenger at Copacabana terminus, Mr Tinashe Ruwani, said Zupco buses were affordable. “Our plea is that the buses should remain under Zupco as we are guaranteed cheap and reliable fares. Whether it is raining or during peak hours the fares are just the same unlike other operators,” he said.

Speaking at the Charge Office terminus, Mrs Fadzai Hwengere, also said the arrangement between Zupco and private companies should stay as it brought convenience to passengers.

“Zupco contracted buses are reliable as we always board them at designated termini. Also they have clear timetables which are followed. This saves us from the mushika shika chaos,” she said.

Mr Bruce Masawi also weighed in saying they were also spared from touts.

“At Zupco buses there are few cases if not none of touts harassing passengers. The buses have clearly labelled signs where they are going and where they pick up people so there are no issues of touts harassing us through canvassing for clients.

“Also Zupco buses have no competition for passengers as they queue properly giving each other chances to load. Imagine losing all that and going back to the chaos,” he said.

Mrs Tariro Samurema said the partnership between Zupco and private operators had proved effective since the time of Covid-19 induced lockdown.

“We can all attest that when commuter omnibus were operating under Zupco there was a bit of stability.

“When Zupco cut its contract with them only chaos is reigning supreme, illegal pickup points have mushroomed. I hope the Zupco decision on buses will be reviewed,” she said.

Mr Tawanda Gwande at Simon Muzenda Street bus terminus said the end of the marriage between Zupco and private players is the way to go.

“Some of the contracted buses are not roadworthy, putting our lives at risk. The move by Zupco is commendable. The operators should go and repair their buses to be roadworthy first before reconciling with Zupco,” he said.

Mr Trynos Gombe also said some of the ‘chicken’ buses had no insurance and should be removed from the road.

“If you happen to have an accident in one of the contracted ‘chicken’ buses, it is a disaster as they lack insurance. So let them put their houses in order,” he said.

In a letter dated February 9, and addressed to bus operators, Zupco acting chief executive Tineyi Rwasoka notified operators of the expiry of the remaining contracts.

“As you are already aware, the Zupco bus hiring contract for urban transportation between yourselves and Zupco Limited is set to expire on February 28, 2024.

“We refer to our previous correspondence, specifically our letter dated January 1, 2024, regarding the same matter. We are writing to officially inform you that we do not intend to renew the contract,” reads the letter.

“We kindly request that you provide us with any necessary information or documentation regarding the conclusion of our contractual relationship. This includes the return of any Zupco Limited property or confidential information that may be in your possession.”

Mr Rwasoka thanked operators for their support and said should the need arise for similar services in the future, Zupco would consider them as potential partners. 

Manicaland bus operators chairman and coordinator of buses attached to the Zupco franchise, Mr Esau Mupfumi, on Thursday confirmed receiving termination letters from Zupco.

He said they had engaged officials from the Minsitry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion who indicated that they wanted to fund the acquisition of 500 new buses. 

“We are waiting for Government guidance as the termination is neither here nor there. It appears the left hand was unaware of what the right hand was doing,” Mr Mupfumi said.

He said the Permanent Secretary for Finance, Mr George Guvamatanga, agreed to facilitate discussions between Zupco, private operators, Local Government and Finance ministries but these would have to start next week when he would be back in office.

 Mr Mupfumi said he had also engaged Mutapa Investment Fund chief executive officer Dr John Mangudya who said there is no termination of contracts pending negotiations with operators.

Zupco now falls under Mutapa.

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