Travellers who board buses, kombis and mushikashika not registered under the Zupco franchise now risk fines of $2 000 per head, as police step up operations against errant bus, commuter omnibus and private car operators who continue defying Covid-19 regulations.
This comes as police are still in the process of screening the 50 buses they impounded on Tuesday for breaching inter-city travelling regulations by pretending they were just ferrying students back to schools.
The screening will establish whether the operators can pay a deposit fine or if they have to go to court where, if found guilty, they could pay far higher fines or even be jailed.
The buses were impounded after Cabinet had allowed inter-city travel only for examination students over the weekend, which is why many school buses or buses hired by schools were on the road.
But some bus operators decided to cash on the relaxation.
Police in Harare on Tuesday, impounded 32 buses at Mbare Musika Terminus offering inter-city services in defiance of the national lockdown. Another nine were impounded in Matabeleland North on the same charges.
Some 170 passengers in Harare were on Tuesday fined $2 000 each for boarding these buses while 90 others were arrested yesterday.
They were charged for contravening Section 7 (2) as read with 49 (2) of The Road Traffic (Traffic Signs and Signal) Regulations of 2016, which is, “Failure to obey any instructions or control imposed by any regulatory signs as specified under such sign in Class 1(a) (i) in the First Schedule eg, No hitch hiking, stop sign, be stopping, no overtaking, weight prohibition, no parking, no right/left turn, etc.
The fine is level 3, which is a maximum of $2 000.
The Officer Commanding Harare province, Commissioner Wonder Tembo, said police were going after all transport operators who are operating outside the law.
“We are continuously disturbed by traffic congestion on our roads being caused by errant drivers mostly those operating the so-called mushikashika. We have declared war against these illegal transporters who continuously defy clear laws of the land. We are heavily descending on you and (you) will suffer the consequences of the law.
“All bus and kombi operators who are equally operating outside the law shall suffer the same fate, you have been warned. More so, the road carnage is contributing to loss of precious lives, let us therefore obey road rules and regulations,” he said.
Comm Tembo said this during the donation of a 5 000-litre water tank by a local company, Water Galore, at Southerton Traffic Police Station yesterday.
He also warned officers engaging in corrupt practices that they will face the full wrath of the law.
“What is disturbing to note is that buses will travel all the way from South Africa to Harare passing all these provinces, Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Midlands and Harare where there are our officers.
“We want all these buses to be impounded and the drivers arrested and I would like to declare war on corrupt officers who receive bribes. Both the officers and those who give the bribes should be arrested,” Comm Tembo said.
Meanwhile, Comm Tembo thanked Water Galore for the donation, saying it will go a long way in assisting traffic police officers when conducting their duties.
“We admit that without community support, success in our policing endeavours might only remain a dream. World over, it was seen that police on its own cannot win the battle against crime, let alone stand on its feet,” he said.
The company’s finance manager, Mr Phillip Mutuma, said the donation was part of giving back to the community especially the police.
“This police station will continue to serve the community for a long time after we are gone and I would like to urge other fellow partners in the industry to also emulate this gesture by donating. When you give you improve and empower the community,” he said.
Mr Mutuma said they will also be delivering safe drinking water for the traffic officers at the police station whenever the tank was empty.