OVER 9 000 vehicles, including pirate taxis and kombis, have been impounded by police since Sunday for running illegal public transport services in violation of Covid-19 regulations.
Police launched a major operation over the weekend targeting motorists that ferry paying passengers during the lockdown. Only Zupco is allowed to do so.
Unregistered vehicles are also being impounded as police suspect they could be behind a spate of criminal activities that have been reported in the last few weeks.
Some commuter omnibus operators have removed registration plates and are ferrying passengers within towns and even across the country.
With Zupco now running the only legal public transport service, passengers who dislike waiting are continuing to use mushikashika and pirate kombis, despite their high fares, or seek lifts in trucks whose drivers are willing to earn a few extra dollars.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said the operation was ongoing.
He said drivers of 9 233 vehicles have been arrested as at August 30.
“Motor vehicle owners who are removing number plates to avoid detection also risk having such vehicles impounded once caught,” he said.
Once such vehicles have been impounded, they will not be released and the drivers will be fined while others will be prosecuted.
Police has information that some pirate taxis and kombi owners were operating at night, putting themselves and passengers at risk.
Asst Comm Nyathi warned anyone breaching the inter-city travel rules that they will be arrested while vehicles used in illegal services will be impounded.
“People should take note that the country is still under national lockdown and as such, inter-city movements remain banned. We reiterate that we don’t expect any unnecessary movements and that people should abide by the laws.
“People should put their safety and health first and should also assist in the maintenance of law and order,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Last month, over 6 000 kombis and pirate taxis were impounded for violating Covid-19 regulations, as police reiterated that inter-city travel remained banned unless the traveller has exceptional circumstances that allow exemption.
At the inception of the Covid-19 lockdown in March, Government suspended inter-city travel and banned all long-distance buses to minimise the spread of the pandemic.
Only commercial vehicles ferrying and distributing goods were permitted to travel from one city to another and beyond borders.
Government recently announced a curfew running from 8pm to 6am, during which time no movements are allowed except for essential service providers, to contain the spread of Covid-19.