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Govt suspends import duty on public service buses

GOVERNMENT has suspended import duty on public service buses as it seeks to boost its Zupco fleet and arrest the enduring transport crisis faced by commuters.

In Statutory Instrument (SI) 138 of 2022 on Tuesday night, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube amended the Customs and Excise Act to allow for the suspension of duty on imported public service buses.

Under the SI, approved transport operators may import as many as 20 buses duty free per year beginning July 2022.

“It  is hereby notified that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development has, in terms of section 235 as read with section 120 of the Customs and Excise Act [Chapter 23:02] made the following regulations:-  the Customs and Excise (Suspension) Regulations, 2003, published in Statutory Instrument 257 of 2003, are amended by the deletion of section 9HH and insertion of the following- “9HH Suspension of duty on public service buses imported by approved importers,” the government notice reads in part.

“In this section- “approved importer” means a public bus operator duly registered in terms of Part III of the Road Motor Transportation Act [Chapter 13:151: “public service bus” means new buses of commodity code 8702.10.1l and 8702.90.11 being imported or removed from bond by an approved importer.

“Customs duty shall be suspended on importation of public service buses imported by approved importers in terms of this section at a customs duty rate of zero per centum. An approved importer shall be allowed to import not more than twenty (20) public service buses in any twelve-month period beginning Ist July. 2022.”

Commuters have been battling transport challenges after the government said only Zupco registered commuter operators were allowed to provide public transport services.

The decree was later reversed after evidence showed that Zupco was failing to meet demand.

In May, the Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) through its lawyers the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) threatened to sue the government for failing to provide  an adequate fleet of buses and commuter omnibuses.

 “It is our considered view that your failure to provide and supply an adequate number of buses and commuter omnibuses under the Zupco franchise amounts to a violation of commuters and passengers’ right to freedom of movement as provided in terms of section 66 (2) of the Constitution which guarantees every Zimbabwean citizen and anyone who is legally in Zimbabwe to move freely within Zimbabwe,” they said.

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