By Oliver Kazunga/Bianca Mlilo
The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) is seeking a government bailout to redeem 33 of its buses that were impounded by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) over $1,6 million in unpaid import duty.
The fleet is part of the 50 buses that Zupco imported last year with each bus taxed $50,000 import duty.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Christopher Chingosho said Wednesday that Zupco had written to his ministry seeking financial assistance.
“At the moment for the 50 buses, Zimra requires $50,000 for each bus to be released. So far, they (Zupco) have paid for 17 buses that are already on the road and the rest haven’t been paid for.
“Zupco has submitted a request to the ministry for assistance but at the moment the ministry is also facing financial constraints and can’t assist . . .,” said the Deputy Minister while responding to questions in Parliament.
“Zupco is still trying to source for required amounts so that the buses can be released.”
He said the government was evaluating the viability of the parastatal through analysing the recently submitted 2013 audited accounts to establish the actual business trends.
Deputy Minister Chingosho said the fact that the government has not injected capital into the company for the past 15 years and that Zupco has survived the current challenging economic environment tells a story about the company’s viability.
“In terms of the original mandate Zupco has decided to operate rural, inter-city and regional routes due to stiff competition in urban areas,” he said.
In line with Zim-Asset’s strategy to introduce a mass bus transit system, Zupco has repositioned itself for urban operations. The government is encouraging the transport firm to rebuild its fleet to ensure the leading role in the urban sector where it will continue operating on commercial lines but as a State enterprise.