By Owen Mandovha
THE assembling of buses under a mega partnership between local business people and a Chinese coach building giant, Zhongton Buses, is set to begin soon after the arrival of the first batch of assembling kits from China.
Zimbabwe was forced to rely on imports for its bus requirements following the demise of the local bus and truck assembly industry which used to be one of the best in the region.
Motivated to utilise the idle capacity, Amalgamated Bus Industries, a consortium of local business people partnered Chinese bus company Zhongton to assemble buses locally and the first consignment of bus kits have arrived in the country to kick-start the project.
“We are starting by 20 buses and you can see here the offloading of kits here at Deven Engineering. We are starting to assemble them from next week,” said Chairperson Amalgamated Bus Industries, Mr Shadreck Tiripano.
The partnership with the experienced Chinese company, which is a household name in coach building, is a milestone towards the revival the local assembly industry as explained by Zhongton Buses Representative, Mr Collen Zheng.
“Zimbabwe provides a perfect opportunity for us to establish our presence on the African continent and the local consortium is going to assist us in doing that,” he explained.
Speaking to ZBC News, Almagamated Bus Industries Managing Director, Mr Samson Nhanhanga said the target is to assemble 200 buses this year, a development key in rebooting downstream and upstream industries.
“This indeed is a game changer and we have set our sights on working with local companies that produce batteries, car seats, lights and related products which is going to utilise idle capacity at Deven Engineering,” he said.
The development comes at a time government is working flat out to restore sanity in the public transportation system.
The bus and truck cluster in the National Development Strategy One policy blueprint speaks about resuscitation of the local motor vehicle industry and this development is expected to reduce the import bill, employment creation as well as rebooting related industry.