19 000 drivers arrested in police blitz National police spokesperson Commissioner Paul Nyathi

Crime Reporter

MORE than 19 000 motorists have so far been arrested countrywide during the ongoing operation targeting unregistered and unlicenced vehicles, operators offering public transport without proper licensing, and those breaching other traffic regulations.

According to police statistics, 509 drivers were arrested for operating without route permits, 7 890 for operating pirate taxis (mushikashika), 257 for reckless driving while 530 unregistered vehicles had been impounded. A total of 1 164 people were arrested for touting.

In a statement, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the operation was continuing.

Police and other key stakeholders last week launched an operation targeting vehicles driven in breach of the law, including unregistered and unlicensed vehicles, pirate taxis and pirate kombis, and drivers committing driving and parking offences as authorities step up efforts to ensure compliance with road laws.

Flouting of laws had become routine, particularly in urban areas prompting the police, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, Vehicle Examination Department, the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and city councils to launch the co-ordinated operation.

Motorists and operators who want to reclaim their vehicles have to obtain all the required vehicle documents and be cleared by the Vehicle Theft Squad, VID and Zimra.

The blitz has also resulted in some errant transport operators hiking their fares, taking advantage of the shortage of public transport.

Passenger Association of Zimbabwe national president Mr Tafadzwa Goliati said they were saddened by the development.

“We are saddened by the high and unfair fares as high as US$2,50 for Chitungwiza and US$2 for Mabvuku,” he said.

“We are engaging the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, and police to correct this situation.”Some passengers are also being dropped off well outside the city centre by illegal operators trying to evade the police and reducing the risk of arrest. Commuters are being forced to walk for long distances to reach their workplaces.

However, the transport operators within the large recognised associations have kept their fares at previous levels, and are now able to run more services with their illegal competition removed.

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