The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Local bus manufactur­ers seek Govt support

- Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspond­ent

LOCAL bus manufactur­ing companies want Government to support them in growing the industry by buying locally manufactur­ed and assembled buses, rather than importing fully built vehicles.

The Industrial Developmen­t Corporatio­n, through its bus and trucking manufactur­ing subsidiary, Deven Engineerin­g, started assembling buses in March this year.

Speaking at the value chains review workshop in Harare yesterday, AVM Africa managing director Mr Jacob Kupa said for the bus manufactur­ing industry to grow and contribute to economic expansion, they needed the Government’s support.

The industry had the capacity to manufactur­e buses needed in the country but wanted support to enable then to produce. “We are operating at five percent capacity and we are producing about five buses per month when we can actually produce 40 buses per month,” he said.

“Government is the biggest buyer of buses and when we say Government, we are talking about Government itself and parastatal­s like Zupco, which is a major off-taker of buses. If we get orders from the biggest off-taker, then the bus manufactur­ing industry will be back on its feet and that is all that we want.

“Zupco supports us here and there because we do some refurbishm­ents of their old buses but we feel they need to do more. As a bus manufactur­er, we are not looking for funding, but we are looking for orders because once we have orders, we then know what to do.”

Mr Kupa said at AVM they have a 5ha factory and they used to employ over 4 000 workers, but currently they have just above 150 as most of their plant is laying idle.

Secretary for Industry and Commerce Dr Thomas Utete Ushe said they were behind bus manufactur­ers and the thinking of tackling industrial­isation through value chains.

“We need to be cognisant of the traverse we have moved technologi­cally so we want a relevant bus or a relevant truck to our needs,” he said.

“Most importantl­y, a truck and bus must be liked by our people first before we even think of exporting it to other countries.”

He said they were also aware of the crippling power shortages cutting across the whole of Southern Africa and Zimbabwe had not been spared. Government was working tirelessly to resolve the challenge.

“I urge all stakeholde­rs to support the Government’s endeavours by establishi­ng environmen­tally friendly energy plants, including solar and biogas, among others,” he said.

“Such initiative­s allow you to tap into developed markets in Europe, where consumers are increasing­ly concerned about consuming products that have been produced with minimal adverse impact on the environmen­t.”

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