By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Government has set aside $1,1 billion as it underscores its determination to ensure the most vulnerable citizens are cushioned from the obtaining economic challenges.
At least $15 million has been earmarked to support the mass urban transportation programme every month while millions more are channelled towards education, health and food.
This was said by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube in Harare yesterday.
He said Government is now working on extending the subsidised mass transportation programme to rural areas to cushion villagers from extortionate fares being charged by unscrupulous private operators.
The mass public transport system, which has seen 86 buses commissioned so far is being spearheaded by Zupco.
“On social services, service delivery and social protection, again, we have set aside $1,1 billion. This is key and our social protection programme is very complex,” said Prof Ncube.
“It ranges from the BEAM (Basic Education Assistance Model) programme in the education sector to support the poor and vulnerable in terms of sending children to school, medical services for the vulnerable, investing in infrastructure in the health sector.
“It (social protection) involves also giving out food in rural areas; we have got a machinery there. We know it works, but this year, we started doing it in the urban areas focusing on Harare and Bulawayo.” Prof Ncube said the programme will be taken to other areas soon.
In terms of the mass transportation system led by Zupco, Prof Ncube said Government is determined to ensure that the vulnerable are able to travel.
“Again there is the Zupco programme in terms of mass urban transportation, the subsidy for that is costing us $15 million a month, but we are committed to that; we are committed to do that.
“We want to subsidise transport so that the vulnerable can travel. Of course we now need to figure out how we expand it into the rural areas as well,” said Prof Ncube.
Apart from the 86 buses commissioned so far, an extra 47 buses have been paid for and by last week, they were at the border on their way to Harare.
Under the programme, Government is targeting a fleet of 800 new buses, which are being sourced from China, South Africa and Belarus.
Eventually, the fleet is expected to rise to 3 000 buses.
Source : The Herald