from WELLINGTON TONI in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – UNSCRUPULOUS bus conductors have defrauded the Zimbabwean government of millions in local currency after breaching a new tap card system used in public transport.
The massive fraud affecting the Zimbabwe United Bus Company (ZUPCO) in recent months since the technology was introduced has left the bus operator in financial problems.
The Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), which introduced the card, confirmed the fraud.
It has since begun working on a new tap card system.
In the old system, once the subscriber identity module (SIM) card is removed, lost memory leading to earlier transactions cannot be recovered.
Engineer (Dr) Talon Garikayi, the HIT Director of Technology, Licensing and Commercialisation Centre, said around 150 machines had been damaged during the scam by corrupt conductors.
He said the pilot installation programme has begun with at least one bus plying eight routes around the country being fitted with the new system.
These are in Chitungwiza, Domboshava, the capital Harare, Mufakose, Norton and Vainona.
“The new card is permanently fixed on the bus and is not operated by a conductor and is synchronized with the computer room to track movements, number of passengers, amount tapped and authenticity of tap cards. It’s just an upgrade from the old system,” Garikayi said.
HIT developed the tap card system in an effort to transform ZUPCO into a cashless entity.
ZUPCO is the only transport operator to carry passengers in Zimbabwe in the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions.
It is overwhelmed by the travelling public.
Commuters lining up in long queues into the night are a common sight in the capital Harare.
Indications are that more buses will be needed with schools due to reopen at the end of July.
The government plans to introduce 500 more buses to ease pressure on the public operator and some private companies it has contracted under its franchise.
– CAJ News