ZUPCO industrial action impacting on informal traders’ businesses

The Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO) industrial action  over poor working has affected informal traders who rely on public entities for transportation into the city centre.

On Monday, Bulawayo residents woke up to a strike as drivers and conductors downed their tools over salaries and poor conditions, which left commuters, a majority being informal traders with no access to the city centre for business.

This was not the first time ZUPCO workers took industrial action this year and this has also fuelled debates on bus fare hikes which are beyond reach for ordinary citizens who rely on selling wares for a living.

Since the introduction of the ZUPCO monopoly a year ago in response to the COVID pandemic, passengers have been lamenting over poor service provision by the sole public transport provider.

WILD Infocus News caught up with Nyasha Masuku, a vendor from Mabuthweni who usually leaves her home at 5AM to  buy vegetables from the market.

“I usually leave home while it’s dark to catch the morning bus  but this week, we have been having challenges. The reason why these problems persist is because ZUPCO enjoys a monopoly and they deliberately hike fares and down tools knowing very well that we are desperate with no other means of getting into town,” she said.

“I rely on my daily sales for all our meals, rent and general upkeep hence the need for constant need of reliable transport. We hear the drivers have not been paid and this means soon fares will be hiked which is not fair at all for Zimbabweans who are already struggling to make ends meet.”

Tanatswa Khabo who works at the Bulawayo market said most commuters were not happy with the service being offered by the bus company.

“On Monday ZUPCO drivers just decided strike out of the blue without any heads up so that we prepare and our children even missed school as we are now dependent on Zupco. This could be a stunt to justify fare hikes which won’t work because we are making less than we need as informal traders,” said Khabo.

Recently a representative from ZUPCO Raymond Nyandoro said ZUPCO  is overwhelmed by the number of residents in need of public transport.

He said Bulawayo has 169 buses and 170 omnibuses and is in need of an additional 47 buses and 35 omnibuses (kombi) to address public transport challenges in light of Covid-19 which requires residents to social distance as means of protecting themselves. According to the Zupco ticketing system, about 300 000 residents use the facility daily.

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