Many people who had come to town as some companies reopened, were left stranded in Harare yesterday, after the state run Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) failed to carry the workers back home.
When President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended the country’s national lockdown by another two weeks, he also said some companies could reopen in order to save the economy.
Mnangagwa last week announced the resumption of work for the formal sector but the unavailability of public transport forced most of people to ignore elements of social distancing.
Mnangagwa pointed out that other transport operators remain grounded and said only ZUPCO will be operational.
Meanwhile, the reopening of some companies have exposed ZUPCO’s incapacity as scores of workers were left stranded in the capital, as the state run bus service struggled to clear those who had come to work.
Zwnews.com went down on the ground to have a feel of the situation and gauge the mood.
One traveller who had spent more than 4 hours at Rezende bus terminus said Mnangagwa rushed the reopening without fixing the logistics first.
“The government has put our lives at risk, they should have taken the logistical procedures seriously, rather than exposing us like this. This disease is deadly.
“ZUPCO was milked by corruption way back and currently has no capacity to transport workers nationwide, Mnangagwa should know better,” he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on the situation Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Nick Mangwana said:
“Reports from today indicate the need to observe social distancing proved a challenge for ZUPCO, as they had to limit passengers.”
He admitted that the fleet failed to cope with the demand. Adding that hopefully measures will be implemented by the corporation to make the next day a better one for commuters.
However, some believe that Mangwana’s hopes that ZUPCO can be able to manage the situation the next day is a window dressing statement.
“He wants to give people false hope that ZUPCO is capable of handling the situation, everybody know that the parastatal is on its knees.
“It is like hoping that Mnangagwa could fix the country’s economy in the next few months that is impossible,” said Paul Mauchaza, of Ruwa, who waiting for a ZUPCO at 4th Street bus terminus.
Meanwhile, it is worrying that the state over the years, has chosen a ruinous path for ZUPCO, which has barely been operational in recent times.
Government has a proven track record of paralysing parastatals. Zimbabwe has about 78 state enterprises with a capacity to contribute 40% to the gross domestic product.
The state-owned companies, which cover all sectors of the economy, used to push economic growth, as well as provide employment. However, mismanagement, poor governance policies, corruption and crippling debts have bled them to ruins.