ZUPCO Has Started Re-assembling Old Buses To Complement Imports
The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) this year started re-assembling old buses in a bid to complement imports.
The buses are currently being re-assembled at depots in Harare and Bulawayo.
ZUPCO’s chief executive officer Mr Evaristo Madangwa said the current phase will cater for buses that will ply routes with rough terrain. He told The Sunday Mail:
The project started in March this year and we have re-assembled five buses, with one already plying the Kanyemba route.
The shells belong to buses that broke down years ago.
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We then sourced engine spare parts locally and some from China.
We are re-assembling engines that are suitable for our rural terrains.
It is our hope that by year-end we will have assembled over 60 buses that are meant for our rural terrain.
He said about 400 new buses imported from China and Belarus were unsuitable for rural terrain.
There are plans to deploy some of the buses to destinations such as Kanyemba and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, which are known for their punishing gravel terrain.
In 1993, ZUPCO was by far the largest public transport operator, with a fleet of around 1 200 buses operating on 426 routes.
It also offered direct out-of-country bus services to destinations such as Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.
However, a combination of mismanagement, an ageing fleet, liberalisation of the urban transport sector and the consequent emergence of private-owned commuter omnibus services ran ZUPCO aground.
Tragically, by 2017, the parastatal did not have so much as a single bus plying urban routes, while only a handful of coaches were servicing long-distance rural routes.
As of January, ZUPZCO had 1 212 private-owned buses and commuter omnibuses operating under its franchise.
Overall, about 2 000 high-volume coaches are needed to support an efficient service.