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Police launch blitz on pirate kombis, taxis

by Staff reporter
15 Jul 2021 at 09:22hrs | Views
POLICE in Bulawayo have launched a crackdown on pirate kombis and taxis commonly known as mshikashikas as the law enforcement agents continue to intensify the fight against violators of lockdown measures.

A number of pirate kombis and taxis have since been impounded and the crews and owners of the vehicles face prosecution.

Pedestrians violating lockdown regulations such as those not wearing masks, are also being targeted. The operation also involves members of the ZRP Mounted Unit who are patrolling on horse backs. Yesterday morning, scores of commuters had to walk to the city centre after they were dropped off just before roadblocks.

Statistics of the number of vehicles impounded yesterday were, however, not readily available. Police are out in full force on a crackdown on pirate kombis and other vehicles to enforce Covid-19 regulations and Level Four enhanced measures.

Most of the kombis and pirate taxis were impounded at several roadblocks mounted on the major roads leading to the city centre.

The latest operation comes in the wake of an increasing number of people violating lockdown measures, particularly transport operators who continue operating illegally and overloading passengers. Recently, rowdy pirate kombi drivers ganged up with some rogue elements and attacked traffic police officers before smashing the rear windscreen of their patrol vehicle.

They also stole a car battery which was in the boot. There has been a worrying trend in many towns and cities of violation of regulations, with vendors back on the streets and some bars and nightclubs illegally operating. Chronicle news crew yesterday moved around the city and observed scores of commuters walking to the city centre after they were dropped off by kombi and pirate taxi drivers as they avoided police.

Pirate taxis and kombis plying the Luveve route were dumping people in Makokoba while those using Khami Road were being dropped at the VID turn off.

Kombis and pirate taxis plying the Plumtree Road route were dropping off passengers at corner 15th Avenue and Herbert Chitepo Street. For the better part of the day, police and pirate taxis were involved in a cat and mouse game, leaving commuters stranded as Zupco buses were failing to cope with demand. A police source said they had to fight off pirate taxis operators who were baying for their blood at a roadblock mounted before Mckeurtan Primary School.

Bulawayo police Inspector Abednico Ncube said they have intensified their routine operations in line with the Covid-19 lockdown regulations. Government decreed that all public transporters in urban centres should be registered under Zupco in order to bring sanity to the transport sector.

Since the beginning of lockdown, only Zupco registered buses and kombis are allowed to transport commuters in terms of Covid-19 prevention regulations. Insp Ncube said transporters that were operating illegally were putting the lives of commuters at risk of contracting the pandemic by not adhering to Covid-19 health protocols hence must be removed from the roads.

"As police, our mandate is to enforce the laws and regulations, which is why we want to ensure that there is sanity on our roads. Kombis that are not registered with Zupco should not operate," he said.

He said the commuting public should not board kombis operating illegally. Government directed that all public transport operators that want to provide urban transport should be registered with Zupco.

Commuters who spoke to Chronicle yesterday said they reported late for work. Mr Takesure Moyo of Cowdray Park urged Government to provide more buses.

"Zupco buses are failing to cope with pressure especially during peak hours. We are appealing to Government to bring more Zupco buses so that people don't end up resorting to mshikashikas," he said.

Another commuter, Mr Bruce Tshuma weighed in: "People resort to boarding mshikashikas because Zupco buses are failing to meet demand. If we get more buses, I don't think these pirate taxis would continue operating."

Ms Lisa Mdlongwa, a Sizinda resident said she had to walk all the way to North End suburb after she was dropped off at 15th Avenue and Herbert Chitepo Street in the city centre.

"I stay in Sizinda and work as a maid in North End. Every morning I have a problem of transport to get to work. Today, I was dropped off at 15th Avenue and Herbert Chitepo Street and had to walk all the way to my workplace."

Source - chronicle

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