HARARE City Council is proposing to develop a mass electrical bus transit system in partnership with Chinese firm China Nanchang Engineering (Pvt) Ltd.
The system would see the first electric buses in the country plying Greater Harare routes of Norton and Chitungwiza as well as urban routes.
The deal comes as Harare has had more than three failed deals to improve the mass transport system which has been characterised by chaotic kombis and mushika-shika.
"The mass transportation system in partnership with council is estimated to have an investment from the Chinese at a value of $400 million. The investment would be fully funded by China Nanchang while council would contribute land on which to develop the infrastructure that is necessary to run the project. The proposed routes are Harare-Norton, Harare-Chitungwiza and Harare urban," town clerk Hosiah Chisango said.
He said by entering into the agreement with Nanchang it would pave way for further engagement with other stakeholders such as the ministry of Transport, other local authorities and the city's department of works for technical appraisal.
Chairperson of the business committee Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi told the Daily News that while they were happy with the new development, they were also cognisant of another company, Concept Group that had taken interest in the mass transport system.
Kufahakutizwi said scope of the project with Nanchang was favourable and involved providing transport for 19 hours of the day with the buses charging once after every 200 kilometres-which was environmentally friendly.
He said infrastructure and operationalisation of the project, however, has to be completed within 12 months, so that appropriate technologies would be installed for tracking and monitoring of the buses.
"The project requires an estimated 600 green buses that can seat between 55 and 60 passengers that would service 60 routes utilising both electric and solar energy.
Four depots would be established, that is, two in Harare and one each in Chitungwiza and Norton. The depots would be fully fitted with maintenance equipment and recharge facilities for 200 buses daily," he said.
Kufahakutizwi said the electric buses would offer a new lease on the transport system which is now characterised by continuous price hikes and erratic fuel supply.
The Mabvuku councillor emphasised that if the deal goes through successfully, it would aid in reducing congestion on the streets and ultimately remove the kombi and mushika-shika menace.
The electric buses if successfully implemented would complement the Zimbabwe Passenger Company (Zupco) fleet which now stands at more than 40 buses plying the Chitungwiza, Norton and Harare urban routes.