BY SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA
Police officers who man the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) urban buses have petitioned government and the bus company over unpaid overtime.
In the petition, seen by Southern Eye, the police officers said they were working more than 18-hour shifts, which they alleged begin at 3:45am and end at 10pm.
“When those duties started, we had two shifts, one starting at 3:45am to 1pm and the other at 1:01pm to 10pm. But the command said one shift was enough,” read the petition.
The officers further said they spend many hours in the buses plying different routes, which they felt was unhealthy.
“For 18 hours, we are given only lunch, which is not enough,” the petition read.
They said Zupco was supposed to pay them an allowance of ZWL$30 daily, which should through their command, but they had never received the allowance.
“We hear news that Zupco pays travelling and subsistence allowances at RTGS$30, but it does not reach us. Many have fallen sick due to this strenuous duty,”
the petition read.
The police officers alleged that the Zimbabwe Republic Police was engulfed by so much panic such that even those at police stations were doing 12 hour-shifts.
“Security wise, we have so much fatigue. At Bulawayo Central, they have 12 hour-shift again and there is panic all of a sudden. You greed (sic) pay us our allowances.”
Contacted for comment, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said there was a period when officers manning Zupco buses had to work for longer hours due to logistical problems that the force’s Bulawayo province command was working on.
“I admit that we had a period when our officers had to work longer hours on the buses. This was due to logistical issues we had, but we managed to solve that within three days,” he said.
However, Nyathi said if members of the police force had any problems, they knew the communication channel within the force, adding that their grievances would never be ignored.
“Our position as the Zimbabwe Republic Police is, we are fully aware of the communication channels that we use in the event that we have grievances. Right now, members are doing a two shift system, and I believe some of the allegations are exaggerated,” he said.
The police officers in their petition also complained over lack of winter uniforms.
“We do not have enough winter uniforms. Is our police commander aware of this?” the petition read.
Responding to the complaint, Nyathi said: “I am not aware of that, even the issue of ZWL$30 a day is new to me. Like I said, if police members have a problem, they should use the proper communication channel, and desist from running to the Press.”
Zupco acting chief executive Everisto Madangwe distanced the company from any responsibility to police officers on duty aboard their fleet.
“I am not in a position to comment about the police welfare, I can only talk about the welfare of the Zupco employees, which happens to be my dispensation,” Madangwe said.
ZRP officers have been on duty, maintaing security, ever since the threat of violent demonstrations by angry citizens, particularly in Harare, following fuel hikes in January.