Commuters in Harare are frustrated by delays with the introduction of a mass transit bus system.
City of Harare and its business partner A1 tested a new mass-transit bus system from January to March of last year on the Mabvuku-Town route. Harare News reported in October 2015 that the demonstration buses – specially designed for high passenger capacity – went through various road and mechanical tests which reportedly yielded “excellent results” with council confirming imminent plans to introduce the system into usage. However, six months down the line, there is still no sign of the buses on the city’s roads.
When contacted for comment on the progress of the bus deal, Principal Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Dorothy Mavolwane who spoke on behalf of Council said the project was now at an advanced stage and that they are expecting A1 to bring in more buses soon.
The project is well supported by most stakeholders as a welcome move towards efficiency and safety on Harare’s roads. Tafadzwa Golliati, a coordinator with the Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ), says that the success of the trial run should have culminated in the introduction of the new bus system by now.
“The fact that this has not happened means that passengers continue to be beleaguered by an erratic and unreliable transport system as well as by unreasonable bus fares, especially during peak hours and when it is raining,” said Golliati.
Golliati added that Council is aiming for Harare to be a World Class City by 2025, and that World Class cities are known amongst other things for the effectiveness and efficiency of their transport systems.
“The introduction of conventional buses in Harare will reduce congestion and resolve the problem of overloading as commuter omnibuses are not equipped for carrying luggage and have a low passenger carrying capacity. Furthermore, bus termini in Harare do not have the capacity, and were not designed for the kombi legion,” added Golliati.
Another stakeholder in the transport sector, Tapiwa Mashingaidze, who is the chairperson of the Commuter Transport Development Network Zimbabwe (CODENET) said that Council should take the job of improving transport services in Harare seriously.
“Council should be involved in improving the transport situation through the introduction of conventional buses that have a timetable. Lack of an efficient transport system is causing chaos. Harare should set aside its own resources to invest in the transport sector. Relying on PPPs is not feasible as these partners will only be coming in for the sake of profit,” said Mashingaidze.
Delays in the introduction of the new system means that the chaos and danger that affects motorists, commuters and pedestrians in Harare will be prolonged even further.
Image: Commuters board one of the demo buses during a successful trial run in 2015.