A NUMBER of Zimbabwe Passengers Company (Zupco) buses were impounded by the Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) last week for not having registration papers as the mass public transporter continues to sink into the abyss.

This follows revelations that a fuel tanker dispatched to collect fuel at the National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe (Noic) last week returned without anything due to non-payment.

Operations at Zupco have been grounded for more than a week over fuel shortages with mismanagement cited as one of the reasons the company is sinking in problems.

“Management tried to save the institution from the fuel crisis and dispatched a tanker to the Noic depot on Tuesday, but it came back empty due to non-payment,” sources at Zupco told NewsDay.

“There is no cash. The situation has remained dire and embarrassing. All national routes have been suspended and Zupco is only serving hired trips, especially from the ruling Zanu PF.”

On Thursday last week, the VID impounded about 30 buses across Zimbabwe after it was discovered that they had no registration papers.

“The buses did not have number plates, a basic requirement for any vehicle,” the sources said.

They added that mismanagement at Zupco was laid bare recently during a Zanu PF function in Chikomba.

“The hired buses in Chikomba did not have enough fuel to return people to their destinations after the address by President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” the sources said.

“The buses were then forced to refill at the local district development co-ordinator depot. Some people had to travel during the night due to the fuel crisis after the rally in Chikomba.”

Disgruntled workers said they had  not been paid since last year.

“Workers under the Northern Region have not been paid since August last year until May this year while those in the Southern Region have not been paid from June last year to date,” they said.

The workers accused workers’ committee vice-chairperson Douglas Seremani of siding with management instead of pushing their cause.

Seremani refused to comment on the allegations.

‘‘I am sorry, I am not aware of anything,” he said when contacted for comment.

Zupco was reportedly paid nearly US$12 000 by Passion Java to ferry people to his flopped All Night Prayer at the National Sports Stadium, but sources indicate that the money was allegedly pocketed by management.

‘‘The company got US$600 for each of the hired 200 buses but no one has been paid a single cent yet. This is all due to financial abuse by senior officials,” sources at Zupco told NewsDay.

The workers also revealed they had been travelling across Zimbabwe without being paid their dues.

“We went to all the rallies last year but we were not being paid anything by the company. Our hope is that the government acts and rectifies the situation that is getting out of hand,” a Zupco driver said.

“We understand Zanu PF makes cash payments for its hires and management is playing the blame game, yet it pockets daily allowances during these rallies.”

Efforts to get a comment from acting chief executive officer Linda Samundero last week were fruitless.

She was not picking calls as well as not responding to text messages.

According to the Auditor-General, the government has been pumping millions to subside Zupco.

At least ZWL$1,2 billion (US$10 million) was pumped into Zupco in 2020 without any supporting documents, the Auditor-General said.

The bus service was reintroduced in 2019.

In 2020, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government revealed that the Zupco subsidy was costing the fiscus about ZWL$51 million per month.

In 2021, our sister publication, Zimbabwe Independent, successfully sued the government for refusing to release information regarding the procurement of Zupco buses. — NewsDay

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