Bulawayo residents have called on the government and the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to come up with measures that will ensure the safety of passengers who use board Zupco buses by ending the potentially dangerous practice of overloading and ferrying of people at undesignated areas.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, the Bulawayo Residents’ Association (Bura) chairperson, Winos Dube told CITE that ZUPCO buses are a welcome move though more needs to be done to protect the passengers.
“The increase in number of people boarding Zupco buses indicates that something quick has to be done and that can be done by the government to avoid overloading,” said Dube.
“Overloaded buses are a threat to road safety as they contribute to many fatal accidents because they do not only put the driver at risk but also passengers and other road users.”
Dube said that the government has to speed up the process and avail more buses.
A survey conducted by CITE revealed that the buses, which charge 50 cents for a single trip are usually overloaded especially during peak hours.
Mhlengi Ncube, a flea market vendor along 6th Avenue, who uses the buses frequently said due to the high transport costs most people are forced to use the bus, which is a cheaper alternative.
He however, lamented the inconvenience that comes with opting for the buses.
“I usually stand in the cold for two hours with a crowd of other passengers waiting for the bus because of the long queues.”
Ncube emphasised that the situation is common during morning and evening hours.
“Other hours of the day, there is no congestion inside the buses, “he said.
Another vendor said it is very hard for the driver to hear passengers from the back when they signal for a bus stop.
“People have no option but to get into the overcrowded buses because there is just no other way out considering that Kombis are too expensive,” said Takunda Mkombe
Meanwhile, BURA chairperson noted that the safety of passengers is not guaranteed even at drop off points.
“Chances of people getting robbed are very high, some of these buses leave at 9pm which is a risk because someone can be attacked by robbers at night,” emphasized Dube.
He said that there is also a need for the Bulawayo city council to designate pick up points for the Zupco buses in order to decongest the city.
“I have gone to the areas where these buses are boarded and I can say that it is not safe for passengers because in those areas you find that there are a lot of pickpocketing people roaming around.”