Factcheck: ZUPCO buses still carrying passengers at full capacity

Claim: The Secretary for Financial and Economic Development George Guvamatanga claimed that the proposed fares for both Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) buses and omnibuses are necessitated by the reduced carrying capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Verdict: Misleading.

The government suspended public transport operators in 2020 with only ZUPCO and Public Service Commission buses allowed to ferry the commuting public.

In a letter dated 13 January 2021, the Treasury approved a review of bus and omnibus fares citing that reduced carrying capacity affected the company’ revenues.

“Treasury notes the proposed fares for both buses and omnibuses which is necessitated by the reduced carrying capacities due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting constraints on revenues which negatively impacts operations,” said Guvamatanga in a statement.

Buses were increased from ZWL$16 to ZWL$30 while Kombis were increased from ZWL$24 to ZWL$45 for local urban routes.

However, a survey conducted by CITE showed that ZUPCO buses were carrying passengers at full capacity. We also observed that passengers were being sanitised as they boarded while social distance remained a concern due as the buses will be full to capacity.

Some buses had stickers of ‘no mask no entry’ but some ZUPCO personnel were not properly wearing face masks and they were not strict about enforcing the wearing of masks.

ZUPCO Southern Region Manager Tinaye Rwasoka said they have 65 seater buses, 75 seater buses and 44 seater buses. He said during the lockdown period they are supposed to be carrying 2/3 of the carrying capacity.

He added that ZUPCO personnel who do not follow laid down Covid-19 regulations should be reported.

“But they should be reported because we are in Covid era. We continue encouraging our crew to be compliant with Covid-19 regulations,” he said.

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