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Bring back freedom trains, says Minister

by Staff reporter
24 Aug 2020 at 07:14hrs | Views
CALLS for the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to resume passenger services continue to grow louder with Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube raising the issue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa when the latter met civil society groups in the city on Saturday.

Ncube said the resumption of passenger trains would ease transport woes in urban areas where Zupco buses were failing to cope with demand.

The NRZ discontinued commuter passenger services, popularly known as freedom trains, in March as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, with only buses under the Zupco franchise allowed to carry passengers albeit amid stringent conditions.

However, Zupco has evidently been failing to cope with demand, resulting in commuters waiting for hours on end to get transport to their respective destinations.

"Zupco remains the sole commuter transporter, however, in order to decongest Zupco, it is our plea that NRZ resumes commuter train operations to ply the LuveveCowdray Park and Nketa-Emganwini routes," Ncube told Mnangagwa during a meeting with civil society groups from Matabeleland.

Private commuter operators have taken the government to the High Court challenging the Zupco monopoly since March 30, and the matter is pending.

The National Consumer Rights Association (Nacora) has also spoken against Zupco's monopoly on provision of public passenger transport.

"Zupco is inadequate as a sole provider of public transport in the country. Government should open space for private operators on condition that when they ferry passengers they should carry a maximum of 70% of their full capacity, all passengers wear face masks, all passengers are sanitised and the buses themselves practise maximum hygiene," Nacora co-ordinator Effie Ncube said.

Source - newsday