There has been a loud outcry from the commuting public following the arrest and subsequent slapping of a ZWL$ 2 000 fine on 170 passengers who boarded the 32 impounded buses at Mbare Musika Terminus early this week in defiance of the national lockdown rules.
State media reported that the passengers 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 and has a maximum of $ 2000.
This comes at a time the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has already set an operation to curb the increase in pirate taxis –mushikashikas-in major cities across the country, with ZUPCO the only public transport operator allowed to ferry people in urban areas.
“It’s a no brainer. If we are fined for going to be arrested and fined ZWL$ 2000 for using the mushikashikas to go to work how then do the authorities expect us to report to work? The transport challenges are clear for all to see,” said a commuter who prefers to be known as Alick from Glen View suburb.
Ironically, government has not been able to address the transport shortages in major cities since reviving Zupco amid reports that some private bus owners under the franchise were pulling out due to unsustainable returns.
Zupco acting chief executive Mr Evaristo Madangwa not available for comment at time of publishing but however recently said the company is expecting about 667 more buses by year end from China to ease the transport woes in cities and towns.
Commuters have to endure hours in Zupco queues to go home from work on a daily basis prompting many to hitch-hike at undesignated points in search of pirate taxis in order to beat the 6.30 pm curfew.
“There are few Zupco. In fact I last boarded a Zupco bus in February because I cannot afford to stand in those long winding queues after work so the mushikashikas are readily available to get me home in time to rest and before it gets dark,” said Tendai Chireya who commutes to town from his Hopley home daily.
The developments have also started to gain traction on social media platforms and below are some of the comments on Twitter.
@tapiwachipotee, said , “Uku ndokunonzi kujairirana chaiko you dont provide enough transport and you now want to fine for boarding alternative transport. Mmmm zvimwe tangai mafunga dzosai makombi then.”
@TripleJ644423J wrote, “Madness! Fuelling corruption instead of $2000 police officer will ask for a $1us bribe. Totally insane, we are alone. Zombies Gvt’
@Kuziva2 posted “do you think we willingly end up in the back of an open truck. Do you genuinely think we don’t want to travel in comfort in a combi/bus. Anyway, you have never cared for us, be reminded nothing last forever. Mugabe chaiyo akafa aakuti pasi neZanu.”
@CChiutsi wrote, “where our legislators cant these things challenged in a court of law.”
@MusaKudzi posted, “Actually this will be a money making avenue for the corrupt Zrp mukabatwa $2 pamunhu yoiswa muhomwe