It is midday in Harare and glittering rays of the sun are being felt in the atmosphere.
By Michelle Chifamba
People desperately stand enduring the hot temperatures. While others have taken a seat on the tarred pavements forming the structures that resemble the bus-station at Copabana in central Harare.
Other people hang helplessly on the falling metal poles to support their feet as they grow tired from waiting for the Zupco buses.
The termini situated at Copacabana, Market Square, Charge Office and Fourth Street are characterised by falling metal bars that used to form the rails in the termini.
The roofs made from metal sheets hang loosely, supported with rusty nails are about to fall.
The infrastructure at the bus-stations has suffered years of neglect by local authorities and vandalism from city dwellers.
According to commuters the City Council has to refurbish the termini as people now spend more hours standing on queues.
Private transport operators in Harare said the City Council should renovate the ranks since it collects revenue through rank disk fares.
According to the Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators, Council has been collecting rank disc fees from more than 10,000 commuter omnibus that use its ranks.
The operators have been paying $100 ZWDL per term (3 months), and early this year commuters operators rejected renewal of the disc citing that Council was not providing any service on the ranks.
Sipping on her last drop of cold water a woman seemingly in her late 50s says there is need for the bus termini to be rehabilitated in the face of bad weather conditions.
“When coming from home you have to carry a sun-hat or an umbrella, a small cloth to seat on, water to drink and a snack because the hours that we spend waiting are too long,” said the woman.
“The buses have a certain time- table. They go for lunch around 12 midday and come back after 3 hours. Council should adapt to modern facilities at these termini that provide seating areas with shades and are more secure,” she added.
The government of Zimbabwe introduced the Zupco buses to ease transport costs for public commuters but since the introduction of the buses there has not been any development at the termini being used by both the buses and the private commuter operators causing congestion in the ranks.
Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) coordinator Tafadzwa Goliati said the City of Harare must come up with immediate solutions aimed at improving safety and security at most of the bus termini in the city.
“The bus termini are being neglected by the City of Harare despite it collecting a lot of revenue. There seems to be no accountability on how the revenue collected is being utilised. They had promised to build a world class modern bus terminus at Mbudzi round-about and nothing has materialised with the contractor showing some level of corruption taking place.”
“The City of Harare must invest more money on improving the state of the bus termini or invite serious private stakeholders and companies that can build the bus termini which meet international standards,” Goliati said.
Kuwadzana Member of Parliament, Miriam Mushayi (MDC) said there is need for the local authorities to prioritise the bus termini since most people now rely on the Zupco buses being subsidized by government.
“We support the idea of government’s innervation in providing the buses as an alternative transport system but we also need to improve the infrastructure that the buses are operating from. The termini need to be rehabilitated to meet international standards that are safe and secure for all commuters,” said Honourable Mushayi.
“We have engaged the City of Harare and Zupco to lobby and advocate for there an immediate upgrade of the facilities so that they are more dignified for the people who use them. The old infrastructure at the bus termini is also not conducive for the people with disability, there is need to provide modern facilities that do not infringe the rights of other parts of the population,” she added.
City of Harare said there are plans that have been put in place to invite private stakeholders to set up modern bus-termini shelters on most ranks.
City of Harare Corporate Communications Manager, Micheal Chideme said, “The plans are there to refurbish the old infrastructure at the bus termini in the city. We advertised a tender that closed last week inviting private stakeholders to bid for the renovations. The successful stakeholders will then provide modern shelters at the termini and get their money through adverts on the banners at the shelters.”
Chideme added that though Council had been collecting rank disc fares from private commuter omnibus operators the money has not been adequate to meet the demands of the maintenance at the termini, hence the need to introduce the private stakeholders.