Columbus Mabika and
Banned kombis have devised new tricks and methods of illegally operating as they evade arrest in Harare and its satellite towns.
The kombis compete for passengers with Zupco buses as transport shortages have resurfaced ahead of the New Year holiday.
Kombi operators are affixing metal and wire screens on windows and windscreens, while others are replacing the windows with wooden boards and plastics.
The kombi crews are now working in larger groups, with some being strategically positioned at street corners to look out for approaching police officers.
When the police officers are approaching, those on the look out alert the loading crew.
To conceal their identity, some of the kombis have replaced their local number plates with foreign number plates.
In most Harare suburbs visited by The Herald yesterday, kombis were loading and offloading passengers at various undesignated points.
Those getting into town were being dropped on the outskirts of the town, having to finish the distance into the central business district on foot.
At most terminuses around greater Harare, banned kombis outnumbered the permitted Zupco kombis and buses, with most commuters falling prey to these kombis which are charging three-fold the Zupco charge.
In the central business district, police officers continue with efforts to restore order, engaging in high speed cat-and-mouse chases with the illegal kombis.
The illegal kombis do not adhere to Covid-19 regulations, with no sanitisation while passengers are also allowed in even without face masks.
Passengers who spoke to The Herald said they were risking their lives by using non-Zupco kombi’s since there was a shortage of transport.
“The way these kombis are operating is dangerous, imagine being involved in an accident while you are in that kombis affixed with metal and wire screens on windows and windscreens, that could be a disaster.
“We have no option, look we have been on the queue waiting for Zupco buses since 8am. It’s now 11 am, this inconsistency with Zupco prompts people to use these banned kombis,” said Mrs Rosemary Gapara of Westlea.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police said operators of commuter omnibuses or private vehicles ferrying passengers illegally on city and inter-city routes risked having them impounded.
It also said police officers accepting bribes from defiant transporters will be flushed out of the police service.
This month, police impounded 24 310 banned kombis and pirate taxis countrywide for continuing to carry passengers and violating Covid-19 national lockdown regulations.