Shakeman Mugari/Gift Phiri
THE 55 purportedly new buses bought by the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) through government assistance are second-hand and reconditioned vehicles whose lifespan is less
than two years, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Investigations show that the 29-seater buses had actually surpassed their lifespan before they were dumped on Zimbabwe a year ago from Kenya and India where they were originally assembled.
The Independent has established that the 55 minibuses were offloaded onto Zimbabwe some eight months ago and kept at a bonded warehouse at the Beitbridge border post after the debt-ridden Zupco failed to pay US$1,8 million to the supplier and customs.
The vehicles were later taken to Gift Investments for reconditioning.
Although the minibuses are being touted as brand new, they are already showing signs of wear and tear barely two weeks in use. The interior of the buses is rusty while the upholstery is beginning to show signs of wear.
There are also apparent signs of rough spray painting, which indicate the buses were hurriedly reconditioned.
The chassis on some of the busses are already rusting. Zupco chief executive officer Bright Matonga admitted that the buses were not brand new.
“Yes shamwari, those buses are not really new,” said Matonga. “They are reconditioned. Even our board minutes confirm that. But that is not the story.”
Matonga also confirmed that the buses had been stuck at the bonded warehouse as Zupco battled to pay for them.
“But shamwari, the story is that we need more buses. Whether they are reconditioned or not, our responsibility is to solve the transport blues. Why should you write that they are not new? Why?”
However, an upbeat Minister of Local Government, Ignatius Chombo, told the Herald two weeks ago that government had helped Zupco acquire “the brand new buses”.
Chombo said the government was not politicking by acquiring additional buses for Zupco as there was were no local elections.
It has however emerged that the government has placed an order for 200 conventional buses from locally listed company, Pioneer Motor Corporation, to help bus its supporters during the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Experts in the public transport sector have since predicted that the 55 buses would be off the streets before the end of this year. Similar buses bought by local public transport operators have since been pulled off the road owing to their limited lifespan.