WE commend Government over its decision to phase out smaller buses known as Hiaces.
The Hiace buses were designed to be vans used to carry merchandise not people. This explains their lack of comfort.
The seats in Hiace buses are fabricated to whatever standard, sometimes with high seats which cause a lot of discomfort to passengers.
Besides, one of the safety features of a vehicle is having a provision for seat belts, which the Hiace buses do not have.
For a long time, they have served the travelling public but time has come for Government to modernise the transport sector in the country.
We are happy that Government has made a bold decision to phase out all commuter buses below 20-seat capacity.
Zambia is developing at a rapid pace and the changes taking place should resonate with the transport sector.
This will certainly sit well with the phenomenal growth of the country.
For a country of our status cruising towards a prosperous middle-income country by 2030, short routes should be served by, minimum, Rosa buses.
Rosa buses, among others, are suitable for transporting passengers because they are comfortable and offer a sense of dignity.
We are also glad that Government has given operators running Hiace buses six months notice to upgrade to higher-capacity buses.
This has been through the Ministry of Transport and Communication extending the period of effecting the Statutory Instrument (SI) requiring all public transport vehicles to have seat belts to December 31, 2018.
It will be in the interest of the country for bus operators to begin deploying luxury buses to win the confidence of the public.
Currently, most people are forced to buy vehicles because of the discomfort they endure in Hiaces and other modes of transport.
Apart from the discomfort, the uncouth language by Hiace bus conductors scares away many people. Having bigger and better buses will ultimately help to decongest inter-town and inter-city roads.
We do not expect resistance from minibus operators but co-operation from all stakeholders as Government begins to sanitise the transport sector.
We look forward to a day when cities like Chipata, Kitwe, Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola will have only Higer, Marcopolo and other big buses operating on the major routes.
We also look forward to a day in the nearest future when the luxury bus operators will start selling pre-tickets to passengers.
Gone should be the days when call boys must shout to entice passengers. A conscious traveller does not need to be reminded whether they are going.
We cannot wait to see luxury buses, which are currently plying on long-distance routes, going local for the benefit of the passengers.