GOVERNMENT has warned public transport operators against ill-treating passengers. “As operators we will constantly remind you that consumers have certain rights,” said Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development Mr Munesu Munodawafa while officiating at a Coach and Bus Operators Association awards where their members were being rewarded for excelling in several safety-related categories.
“These rights need to be respected. Not only are these rights relevant, but they are also good for you. It is a good marketing strategy,” he added.
Mr Munodawafa said the operators would only ignore the rights of their consumers at their own peril as not only would they risk arrest but also had an effect on their business.
Over the years there have been calls by members of the public for bus operators to do away with touts notorious for harassing people at terminuses and prevent them from travelling on buses of their own choice.
The problem of touts at bus terminuses increased several fold due to economic reforms that brought stiff competition, but instead of enjoying the benefits of the competition, travellers now face problems from touts who try to get them to board certain buses. In some cases travellers luggage is stolen or damaged when rival touts fight over passengers.
Mr Munodawafa, however, lauded operators for being proactive by taking deliberate measures aimed at ensuring safety on the roads.
Mr Munodawafa said while government’s role was to regulate the transport industry, it took pride in operators who take initiatives to ensure safety on the roads.
“Self-regulation is critical and very important and in the absence of such there will be external regulation, which tend to be painful. We do not want to do it but we are mandated to do it,” said Mr Munodawafa.
He said they supported any measure taken by public transporters whose effect would be to reduce road carnage. He reminded bus operators that Zimbabwe was part of the Decade of Action on the reduction of road accident by 50 percent by 2020 and Government would applaud any activity undertaken aimed at attaining that objective.
Mr Munodawafa warned operators against complacency to ensure that Government meets its 2020 target.
“I know there is a temptation to say this is 2013, the decade ends in 2020, so we still have a lot of time. Then we forget and wait until it is 2019 it would then be too late. Then we want to amend the date or pretend that we were not aware of the target,” said Mr Munodawafa.
CBOA chairperson Mr Fungai Makoni said the awards were a way of encouraging members to ensure safety on the roads.
“What we want to achieve is to raise awareness in terms of safety on our passengers and improve service delivery,” said Mr Makoni.
During the ceremony, Pathfinder Coaches won the Safety Award of the Year while Revival Motors won the Cross-Border Operator of the Year.
Pioneer won the Most Consistent Operator of the Year award while Eagleliner was voted as the Most Favourite for Passengers.