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Zupco shuns bad road routes

by Staff reporter
18 Jan 2021 at 05:52hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) has abandoned some routes in Bulawayo due to bad roads. Bulawayo's road network is in a terrible state and this has been worsened by the incessant rains that have been pounding the city since last week.

Motorists have decried the bad road network which they say is damaging their cars.

Zupco has discontinued servicing routes such as Cowdray Park-Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai area and Bulawayo's outskirts routes such as St Peters and Khami Prisons. Residents from affected areas are now being forced to walk up to five kilometres from their homes to board Zupco buses.

After Zupco withdrew buses from the city-Khami Prison Complex and St Peters routes commuters are now relying on private cars that are charging US$1,50 per trip.

The affected residents have appealed to Zupco to reverse its decision to withdraw services given that it is the only public transporter legally operating during the lockdown.

The residents have also demanded that Zupco come out in public and explain their position to authorities and commuters. Bulawayo City Council is on record saying 70 percent of its road network is in bad state and that it needs about US$700 million to repair the roads.

Reporters yesterday visited Cowdray Park suburb, Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai area and observed that the roads are virtually impassable.

Vehicles have to negotiate through gullies filled with water and in some instances the road can be easily mistaken for a trench.

Light vehicle motorists struggle to navigate through the road. Residents said it was worrying that the council does not seem interested in fixing the roads. They said what is worsening their transport situation is that pirating kombis charge exorbitant fares taking advantage that there are no Zupco buses.

Mrs Khethiwe Dliwayo said Zupco buses abandoned servicing their routes about a month ago when the state of the roads got worse following the incessant rains.

"Transport has become a serious problem for us. We are now living as if we are in rural areas where you have to walk long distances to board a bus.

"Before the rains started, buses would drive across the suburb but now we are dropped very far away. We have to walk for two to three kilometres just to get to where we now board the bus. This is painful on our part especially when you are carrying goods as you have to call someone at home to bring a wheelbarrow," said Mrs Dliwayo.

She called on the local authority to fix the roads. Another resident Mr Daniel Majika said walking long distances to and from the bus stop exposes them to criminals.

"We have mugging hotspots, for instance there is an area called ebritshini (at the bridge), it's dangerous to pass the bridge particularly after 7PM.

"The situation is worsened by the fact that there is no electricity in this area. Another problem is that these days it's raining and you can be soaked while going to catch a bus. So, we are appealing to authorities to fix the road and address our problem," said Mr Majika.

Mrs Alice Sibanda said residents are now at the mercy of pirate taxi operators who are now cashing on the transport crisis.

Mrs Sibanda said while Zupco fares have been $16 before their latest increase, they are charged between R10 and US$1.

"Even if we board those kombis, they are sometimes impounded. So, there is no motivation to board them as they are expensive as well.

"We hope the road can be fixed as soon as possible. We live as if we are not part of Bulawayo," said Mrs Sibanda.

Cowdray Park Ward 28 councillor Kidwell Mujuru said council was aware of the transport challenges as a result of poor roads.

"I have even raised the issue during a full council meeting. What we have been told by Zupco is that the bus owners have argued that the roads are in a bad shape and they cannot continue plying the routes as spares are expensive. Residents are suffering, even the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Bulawayo Judith Ncube is aware of this problem. But the challenge we have is that the council does not have resources to fix the roads at the moment," said Mujuru.

Zupco Southern Region manager Mr Tinei Rwasoka demanded questions in writing but had not responded to them by the time going to print. Bulawayo Mayor Solomon Mguni admitted that the rains have worsened the city's road network.

"We can't be doing major maintenance work when it is raining because that will be a waste of resources. We will just continue with remedial work on trunk roads but major rehabilitation works may only start after the rainy season," he said.

Cllr Mguni said council was trying its best to provide services to the Garikai area of Cowdray Park but was not getting enough from residents as many of the were defaulting in paying their bills. He said council was hoping to channel Government's devolution funds towards critical services such as sewer and road rehabilitation.

Cllr Mguni said the council wants to borrow from international financiers so that it can address service delivery issues.

The council is seeking borrowing powers to raise US$51,886 million to finance water infrastructure rehabilitation, sewerage infrastructure, acquisition and development of land, roads construction and rehabilitation, landfill site, acquisition of vehicles as well as plant and equipment.

Source - chronicle