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Overloaded ZUPCO buses to continue operating despite crowd ban

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By Mbekezeli Ncube

PUBLIC transporter, Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO)’s buses will continue operating despite a government ban on any form of gatherings of more than 100 people.

President Mnangagwa introduced the measure in attempts to minimise the likely outbreak and spread of the coronavirus in a country.

In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, ZUPCO chief executive officer Everisto Madangwa said the government owned transporter will not suspend operations but will take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We will continue with our services of bringing transport to the people because people really need transport,” he said.

“However, we will take some measures and work hand in hand with the government in tackling the spread of Coronavirus.

“We will be educating our passengers on the dos and don’ts in order to prevent ourselves from being affected by the virus.”

Madangwa however could not confirm if ZUPCO was going to perform any sanitisation measures on passengers.

ZUPCO buses and commuter omnibuses were introduced early last year in order to ease transport problems faced by poor locals.

The shortage of fuel and rising prices of the precious liquid have led to continued increases in fares by private transporters.

In Bulawayo, a single trip into the city centre from the residential areas on a commuter omnibus costs ZWL$20 while ZUPCO charges just ZWL$2 for the same services.

This has seen a majority flock to buses which are often packed with over 100 passengers.

In the wake of the coronavirus scare, Madangwa said the public transporter will now be stricter in ensuring its buses carried recommended numbers of passengers.

“We will also limit the number of people in a bus; 75 people will be allowed to sit, and a bus will now only be allowed to carry not more than 21 passengers standing.

“This is also another way of preventing the spread of Coronavirus,” Madangwa said.