The Central Mechanical and Equipment Department which is responsible for repairing all government vehicles except those of the army has $3 million worth of spares which do not fit any vehicle in the government fleet.
Only two years ago this was about the same amount that the CMED required to repair half of the government fleet that was off the road. The size of the fleet has never been disclosed but the situation is very critical.
In Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe’s third biggest town which has a population of 700 000, police there have only 12 vehicles and 11 are off the road.
In Matebeleland the police have 452 vehicles but only 154 are on the road. Worse still 170 government vehicles are involved in accidents every month.
Last year, for example, the CMED reported that 1 000 vehicles had been off the road for 12 months because of lack of spares.
The CMED wastage comes at a time when the country is hard pressed for vehicles and spares. Despite the exposure of the car industry during the Willowgate scandal nothing much has changed. Vehicles are still scarce and some dealers, particularly those who started business after independence have not been allocated a new car in the past 10 years.
While the country’s vehicle production capacity is estimated at 30 000 a year the current production is a mere 10 000.
Pearson Chitando, President of the Motor trade Association, says although the government has promised $1 billion over the next five years for vehicle kits and spares this will be a drop in the ocean.
He says the vehicle industry requires $700 million a year to ease the transport crisis. With only $1 billion reserved for vehicles in the next five years this means an annual allocation of $200 million which falls far short of expectations.
The shortage of cars has resulted in an increase in theft of motor vehicles. Police say 1 798 cars valued at $16 060 870 were stolen in the first 28 weeks of this year. Only 710 were recovered.