Police are being more strict in checking trucks and private cars ferrying passengers for during the lockdown in violation of transport and lockdown regulations.
Most passengers using trucks and pirate taxis either want to travel on inter-city routes where travel is prohibited, or need to get to and from work, and are allowed to travel, and cannot afford the time to wait in long Zupco queues.
Zupco, especially with the need to keep its buses and franchised kombis roughly half full, is not coping with the demand for its services by workers in reopened businesses.
Truckers and other errant motorists are enjoying brisk business along major highways, charging exorbitant fares.
In a statement, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi warned the errant drivers against violating the law.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is warning haulage truck and private vehicle drivers who are ferrying people between cities, within cities, and even some border jumpers. Besides being a criminal offence, this act poses a risk to the Government’s efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Police checkpoints, roadblocks and patrols have been activated to account for such drivers. Haulage trucks should stick to their mandate of transporting cargo and goods from one point to the other. Transport companies are implored to take action against errant drivers,” he said.
Police said 35 638 people have been arrested countrywide since March 30, for violating lockdown measures, with all paying deposit fines.
Most were arrested for failing to wear masks, liquor-related offences and for violating the Road Traffic Act, unnecessary movements, illegal gatherings and violating the Miscellaneous Offences Act.
“Members of the public are urged to comply with the measures put in place by Government to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Asst Comm Nyathi said.
Truck drivers have hidden passengers in trailers covered by tarpaulins to evade arrest.
The practice is now prevalent at Mbudzi roundabout along Harare-Masvingo Road, Mabvuku Turn-off along Mutare Road, Makoni Shopping Centre along the Dema-Marondera Road, Westgate roundabout along the Harare-Chirundu highway and at Harare Exhibition Park, along Bulawayo Road.
The investigation also revealed that touts, who had been driven off the roads during the first two weeks of national lockdown, have since resurfaced at these pick-up points.
At Westgate bus stop, touts were the ones determining the fares. Those with exemption letters would pay less while those without letters were made to pay more.
Meanwhile, police have expressed concern over people’s disregard of lockdown and health measures put in place to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement on Tuesday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said those who continued to ignore lockdown measures would be arrested.
He urged the public to put their safety and security first as they undertook various activities.
“Police are concerned by the disregard of the social distancing requirement and non-wearing of masks at Mbare Msika in Harare, Makokoba in Bulawayo, Sakubva in Mutare, Mucheke in Masvingo and other densely populated areas in the country in open violation of the lockdown regulations,” he said.
“It appears as if it is business as usual and members of the public are exposed to the risk of the Covid-19 virus.
He said only those in industry, commercial and licenced businesses were allowed by the Government to operate.
Asst Comm Nyathi appealed to the public to cooperate with the security agents doing their duties of enforcing the lockdown measures.
“It is important for all members of the public who are found in the central business districts to be in possession of official employment confirmation documents from companies.
“Police and other security services are currently screening and driving out people who do not deserve to be in the central business districts and thus appeal for public cooperation.