ZUPCO… Problem Or Solution?
6 October 2019
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By Prince Gora|
It was around 6;00pm when l arrived at the 4th street bus terminus on the outskirts of Harare’s CBD.

I had budgeted my ZW$4-00(the amount I had used to go home the previous day).

As l approached the terminus, the sight before me immediately told me that something was wrong and indeed my worst fears became a reality a few moments later.

$5-00 bond, the fare had gone up!
I had no other option but to wait. 10 minutes later it was $6-00 bond!
A quarter of an hour later,  the kombis (commuter omnibuses ) strategically momentarily  disappeared, when they came back barely five minutes later, the fare was $7-00 bond and people rushed to get in…and you blame them? Or you blame the kombi operators? Or the government?

Since l only had $4 bond in my pocket, all that l could do is take my phone out of my pocket, take a few pictures then open blogger and start typing…

As l sat at the terminus I was asking myself questions,  whose fault was it?
The passengers?
The operators?
The government?
Or everyone?

I began analysing the passengers,  could they have waited like l did and go home after 8pm? Surely Yes! But at what cost (in terms of time)? It was then that l realised if l had an extra $1 bond myself l could have quite easily joined then and got home in time.

But then can’t the passengers unite and hold their own until the fares go down?  I think Yes,  the question then is why are we not doing it? Then l thought of the mother who has to cook for her kids, in all fairness, she can’t stand in solidarity with us,can she?

I shifted the blame to the operators, fuel prices are going up weekly and not hourly or even daily, why then do these guys change their fares in split seconds?

To find out, while sitting pakadoma l engaged the conductor and bluntly accused him of robbing us, the  citizens of our hard earned money.

He shot back…although expensive,  fuel is generally not there in service stations (at the rate at which operators need it). Their solution?  They buy from the black market and according to him, yesterday a 5L of diesel was going for $90-00 bond notes (NB: Notes).

As to why they change their fares at will? He simply pointed at demand and supply factors and the fuel cost and availability. Then added the impact of rank marshals (mahwindi), these guys get paid the equivalent of 1 or 2 passengers’ fares once a kombi is fully loaded, so naturally, they push for the fares to go as high as possible (again using the concept of demand and supply).

Although l could get the gist of his argument, I still tried hard to pin him and put the blame on the kombi operators… that is before the whole kombi joined in the conversation on his side forcing me to retreat into my shell.

I only had the government to blame now…
I was first compelled to exempt them from blame arguing that they are trying to address the situation by,for example, providing the far cheaper and  popular ZUPCOs.

A deeper look however changed my mind quickly. Firstly, the ZUPCOs on the road are way fewer compared to the demand. Secondly, they are not frequent enough and thirdly, they are in fact costing us a lot more(in terms of time and money, albeit indirectly) and perhaps even providing a loophole with which authorities can steal the taxpayers’ money.

I couldn’t help not considering the time factor. The hours spend on those meandering ZUPCO ques is horrendous. I am a victim actually,  and l have missed many lectures and other important school chores this semester in the name of ZUPCO,  not mentioning the countless times I have arrived home late again in the name of ZUPCO.

Can’t the government try to provide order at terminuses and try to make fuel more available in order to protect the ordinary citizen?
I am sure they can, but for reasons best known to themselves they won’t!    

While everyone else takes part of the blame, it is the government that is failing to uphold the social contract, they have the tools and the resources to save the citizens from forking up to $400-00+ a month in kombi fares or they simply just don’t care…

Perhaps it’s high time that we seriously start thinking about holding our government accountable. They keep on breaking the social contract time and again and what do we do?
We just watch from afar… now they are taking us for a ride.

Food for thought!