THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has hailed the re-introduction of buses into the urban transport system, saying the move will greatly aid efforts to resuscitate the economy and cushion consumers.
Last month Government through the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) pulled a smart partnership with private players in the transport sector by providing buses to ply the intra-city routes countrywide as traditional kombis were over-charging commuters.
The coming in of Zupco buses has stabilised commuter fares at $1 compared to $2, which was being demanded by kombis.
CCZ views the bus system as the only way to address the dire transport situation that has hard-hit consumers.
Mr Ntokozo Nyoni, CCZ’s Matabeleland region chairman, said the consumer watchdog applauds the public private partnership initiative in the urban transport system.
“The re-introduction of buses is a noble move. For a longtime commuters have endured unfair treatment by kombi operators who charge whatever suits them. We urge the people of Bulawayo and other cities to support these buses. This is not the time to be pessimistic, let us pull the strings together and embrace the new transport system. After all, buses are the in thing in major cities around the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, the consumer watchdog has called for total citizen participation in public consultations of the Consumer Protection Bill, which started yesterday.
Mr Nyoni said the bill, which was drafted a decade ago, is set to transform the way producers and consumers interact when enacted.
“Over the months as CCZ we have done nationwide consultations to raise awareness about the Bill. This will also provide for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Agency and regulation of consumer advocacy organisations in the country. That way we are strengthening the rights of the consumer. This is what is needed and we call upon all citizens to come and give an input so that they get the grasp of what is entailed.
“Once the proposed legislation is passed into law, consumers are expected to get legal protection, as they are being abused by service providers. We have received numerous complaints on customers being on the receiving end of businesses, as prices of most basic goods and services have sky-rocketed in the last few months,” said Mr Nyoni.
“We expect that there would be competitive business practices based on respect of human rights. If consumers are satisfied, businesses tend to grow because trust and reliability are essential in growing our industries.”
CCZ executive director, Ms Rosemary Siyachitema, said it was every citizen’s obligation to know about the law that seeks to protect them.
“If you are a consumer, you have the right to know what this law is about, in particular with regards to consumer protection,” she said.
Other key areas include promoting consumer confidence, empowerment and development of a culture of consumer responsibility through individual and group education, providing a consistent, accessible and efficient system of resolution of disputes.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president, Mr Denford Mutashu, said the legislation was long overdue.