Franchisees Cry Foul As ZUPCO Creams Off Fat Profits

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By Paidashe Mandivengerei

PRIVATE commuter omnibus owners operating under the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) claim they were being pressured by the franchise holder to remit ‘unreasonable’ daily targets, something that has caused their crews to break the law.

The daily target for each commuter omnibus is RTGS$15 000.

While the operator gets RTGS$4 000 which is barely enough to cater for vehicle maintenance, the balance is pocketed by the public transporter.

Addressing journalists in Harare Tuesday, Greater Harare Association of Commuter Omnibus Operators (GHACO) secretary general, Ngoni Katsvairo said in the mad rush to beat the ludicrous daily targets, kombi drivers end up defying many road traffic laws.

“A kombi operating under ZUPCO is supposed to cash in RTGS$15 000, that is the daily target and the operator gets RTGS$4 000.

“Such unreasonable targets put pressure on the driver to break the law.

“We are not saying we do not want a target because ideally, that is how all businesses operate but it should be reasonable at least,” he said.

Last year, government invited commuter omnibus operators to join hands with ZUPCO and operate their fleets under the franchise.

The move was meant to deal with transport blues during the Covid-19 lockdown and bring some sanity to the public transport sector but has failed to yield positive results as both partners seem to be suffering losses.

ZUPCO has previously complained of drivers illegally pocketing money while the drivers and operators have complained of delays in payments by the public transporter.

Tens of thousands of vehicles that used to ply routes countrywide have since been parked as operators are hesitant to surrender their fleets to ZUPCO.

In most cases, the few who have done so surrender only one kombi and park the rest of their fleets home.

“Operators under ZUPCO face challenges of delays in payments and will not be able to service their vehicles.

“Countrywide, there were about 50 000 kombis and about 49 000 have been parked for over a year now and due to this, livelihoods have been affected,” Katsvairo added.

The total amount required for one to operate a kombi is an estimated RTGS$128 000 covering an operator’s licence, registering as a passenger service vehicle, testing for road worthiness, VID inspection and to affiliate with ZUPCO a CMED inspection, driver test by the CMED and a retest by the VID.