A consortium made up of ninety (90) of the country’s public transport operators, Amalgamated Bus Industries (ABI), has secured a US$35 million loan to revive two local bus manufacturing companies.
The funding was secured from Chinese financiers and will be used to support vehicle assemblers AVM Africa and Quest Motor Corporation.
The two companies will be paid US$12 000 to assemble a single bus unit upon being supplied with assembly kits shipped from China through the facility.
The buses will ultimately cost US$75 000. The two companies will in turn have the capacity to assemble 500 buses annually.
ABI has now requested the Government, through the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO), to commit to purchase up to 60 per cent of the coaches. ABI finance director Kura Sibanda said:
We have entered into partnerships with Quest and AVM Africa after we secured a loan from our Chinese friends to import kits.
So now we are waiting for the Government because we have submitted a proposal to them.
The proposal is that we either directly supply ZUPCO with buses and have an arrangement where we can run the franchise.
Or we can sell to Government because the challenge for us is we do not have a market that can absorb the number of buses we would like to produce yet. But we know that Government has that capacity.
Quest Motor Corporation director Tarik Adam said production would commence soon after the Government agrees to the deal.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister Mike Madiro said Government was prepared to purchase the buses. He said:
… as Government, we can absorb these buses so as to support the local industries.
We have a programme to revive ZUPCO, so we are going to be taking those buses and hopefully along the way they can improve their production efficiencies.
Meanwhile, 100 new buses acquired by the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company are set to arrive in Durban on Thursday en route to Harare.