BY PROBLEM MASAU
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared war on unlicensed private passenger transporters, a stance that many believe will worsen the country’s transport crisis.
Mnangagwa’s May Day speech, which buttressed days of a sustained police clampdown on private transporters, only served to make matters worse for commuters in urban areas, especially in Harare and Bulawayo.
At least 70 drivers of pirate taxis and their unregistered vehicles where netted on Sunday as the operation targeting them continued in and around the capital Harare where so far 459 cars have been impounded, according to the police.
In his pre-recorded Workers’ Day speech, Mnangagwa accused unlicensed passenger transporters of ripping off workers and vowed: “The second republic is determined to retain the purchasing power of workers, through viable public transport systems. Government will not stand by and watch while hard-earned incomes of our workers are being stolen by mushikashika and makoronyera. No!
“You, as our workers, deserve an efficient and affordable transport system so that production time as well as your family time is not lost in transport queues. During peak hours, workers must be transported with the greatest ease.”
However, transport operators and passengers have blamed the government for creating a Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) monopoly when it is clear that the company does not have the capacity to transport commuters during peak hours.
Most transport operators, who had joined the Zupco franchise withdrew their vehicles, citing poor management, late payment for their service and incessant fuel shortages. There is also the issue of diverting the few buses that are there for Zanu PF functions, leaving commuters stranded.
Passengers Association of Zimbabwe president Tafadzwa Goliati said: “The economy is opening up and transport is an integral part of the economy. There is need for adequate transport for everyone. Schools and other sectors of the economy have reopened and some buses which are under Zupco have returned to rural areas or highway routes, so there is need to increase transport operators. Monopoly in a country like Zimbabwe will only create illegal taxis, and there is need for the government to rectify the issue.”
A survey by NewsDay yesterday showed that many commuters were left stranded, while others walked several kilometres as police in Harare barred public transporters not registered with Zupco.
Commuters accused the government of making their lives difficult by creating a monopoly in the transport sector.
“Government should be blamed for creating chaos in the transport sector. Zupco buses are not reliable and most of the buses plying urban routes are not in good condition. Instead of protecting its citizens, our government has a penchant for making our lives more difficult,” said Harare commuter Enock Hore.