Operators of illegal kombis, mushikashika remain defiant

Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter

operators of illegal kombis are still defying the Government ban on their operations introduced as part of the lockdown regulations when Covid-19 hit Zimbabwe and are refusing to place their vehicles under the control of Zupco.

The banned kombis and illegal pirate taxis, commonly referred to as mushikashika, were always operating, but numbers were a lot lower during the level one and level two lockdowns, and have been rapidly increasing since the return of level four. 

The Government has made it clear that Zupco is the sole operator of urban public transport using buses and kombis, but that private operators are welcome to join the Zupco franchise and operate under Zupco control and rules. 

The police have been told to enforce the regulations and remove the pirate kombis and the mushikashika, which have always been illegal, from the roads.

Pirate kombis and mushikashika do not follow the health rules, with severe crowding being the norm.

But there have been complaints that police officers tolerate the pirates, and that when enforcement roadblocks were in progress it was possible to get through these by bribing the duty officers.

Yesterday, along Simon Mazorodze Road, near Mbare Police Station at the ZBC corner, over 10 police officers were in front of illegal transport operators loading behind them and ignoring them.

Passengers were also being picked at an undesignated bus stop at Total Service Station at the corner of Samora Machel Avenue and Chinhoyi Street.

At Exhibition Park, illegal pirate taxes were lined up loading people. Along Fidel Castro Road by the Harare Street intersection, these transport operators were busy loading people at undesignated stopping points and one car was spotted carrying many people with their legs outside the doors.

At Mbare Musika and Tsiga terminuses illegal transport operators were seen picking people at undesignated places and some of the buses seen loading people had no ZUPCO decals and not all were long-distance licensed services where the buses do not carry such decals.

Illegal transport operators who refused to be named said it is difficult for them to stop pirating because that is their only source of income to fend for their family, saying that registering with ZUPCO is expensive, hence they cannot be contracted to them.

“We have no other income,” said an illegal commuter omnibus operator. “Pirating is the only way we can survive with. 

“It is not easy and cheap to process documents and become contracted to ZUPCO. 

“Moreover our vehicles are not in good condition so they will not accept them.”

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