Roundup: Zimbabwe to improve urban mass transport system to ease commuters' trouble

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HARARE, May 4 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government said Wednesday that plans are underway to tackle transport challenges facing commuters in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital.

Commuters in the capital have been facing transport challenges during peak hours over the past week as public transport provider the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) failed to cope with demand.

The situation has been worsened by the current police blitz on unlicensed transporters as police impound the vehicles.

"Government is aware of and regrets the current transport difficulties being experienced by Harare commuters and would like to assure them and the Nation that plans are underway to bring relief," Permanent Secretary for Information Ministry Nick Mangwana said on Twitter.

He said short and long-term efficient urban mass transport system solutions will be implemented.

The government has been trying to revive ZUPCO by importing buses from such countries as China to replenish its fleet.

In his Workers' Day speech at the weekend, President Emmerson Mnangagwa instructed the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works as well as ZUPCO to put in place an efficient transport system that will make it easier for workers to commute during peak hours.

"You, as workers, deserve an efficient and affordable transport system so that production time, as well as your family time, is not lost in transport queues. During peak hours, workers must be transported with the greatest ease," Mnangagwa said.

Already, the government and some private companies have been providing subsidized transport to their workers to address the transport challenges.

Last year, the government re-introduced commuter trains in Harare and Bulawayo in partnership with ZUPCO during peak periods.

Addressing a post-cabinet press briefing Wednesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa clarified that the government had not banned the operations of private contractors in the public transport sector.

She said ZUPCO buses that are traveling on inter-city routes will now be required to undertake local trips upon return to ease transport challenges in urban areas.

"While noting the apparent withdrawal of services by some operations, Cabinet wishes to state that no effort is being spared in ensuring that the inconvenience to the traveling public is minimized," she said.

Mutsvangwa said ZUPCO is engaging with contractors with a view to ensuring that all arrears are settled and resolving any outstanding matters.

In addition, more ZUPCO buses that were undergoing licensing have since been cleared and are now plying various routes, she said.

"The public is informed that the government, through the Zimbabwe Republic Police, will enforce the law without fear or favor for the safety of the traveling public. All vehicles without number plates will be impounded," she said. Enditem

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