Bulawayo–SCORES of passengers intending to travel to Harare and other destinations via pre-booked ZUPCO services were left stranded in Bulawayo this week following the public transporter’s decision to redeploy buses to Zanu PF rallies.
Zupco offers daily roundtrip pre-booking services for the Harare-Bulawayo and other routes throughout the country.
Travellers who spoke to NewsHub said they felt short-changed by ZUPCO’s decision to withdraw services without notifying them in advance.
“I bought a ticket on Tuesday intending to travel to Harare but, when I arrived this morning, I was told that the service would only resume on 9 July.
“I am not worried by their decision to take the buses to Zanu PF rallies, but my concern is why take our money when they knew that there are no buses available? This is very unfair,” said a source who refused to be named.
Prichard Moyo, another traveller, accused the company of unprofessionalism.
“I am used to travelling on Zupco buses whenever I go to Harare to do my business. Today, I was shocked when I was told that the bus is not available till further notice.
“What kind of company is this that suspends services without notifying customers in time? No wonder why the company is facing viability challenges,” said Moyo.
Over the years, ZUPCO, a government entity, has been facing increasing operational challenges that include severe depletion of its fleet, flight of staff, poor working conditions, critical shortages of spare parts and fuel as well as stiff competition from other transporters.
Following an outrage from inconvenienced clients, the company on Wednesday put a notice at its Bulawayo offices, informing customers of the withdrawal of services on the major routes.
“To all our valued clients. Kindly note that the pre-booking bus will not be available until Sunday, 9 July 2023. We apologise for the inconvenience caused,” reads part of the notice.
Employees at the company‘s Thorngrove depot, however, told NewsHub that management had ordered all buses to be deployed to Zanu PF to ferry party supporters to various campaign rallies throughout the country.
The rallies are being addressed by senior Zanu PF leaders.
The ruling party has been accused of bussing supporters to its star rallies.
“There are no buses at the depot as I speak .The only buses which are servicing the urban routes are individual buses operating under the Zupco franchise.
“All Zupco buses are busy transporting Zanu PF supporters to campaign rallies,” said a conductor at the depot who also refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
ZUPCO acting chief executive officer, Tineyi Rwasoka, requested questions in writing.
However, he had not responded to questions sent to him by the time of publishing.
Gabriel Masvora, the advocacy and communications director in the Local Government ministry, defended the company’s move to allocate its fleet to the ruling party meetings.
“Zupco is a business entity and has the prerogative to offer services where it makes business sense. As a ministry, all we can say is that ZUPCO is paid by whoever hires its buses,” said Masvo