POLICE are concerned by the way pirate taxis are operating illegally, first in terms of normal law and secondly in terms of lockdown rules.
With Zupco failing to cope with the growing number of exempted workers as more formal businesses re-open, joining the originally exempted essential services, a growing number of people grab “lifts”, sometimes mushika mushika, sometimes a ride in a private car to avoid a two-hour wait to get home.
Unlike Zupco buses and kombis, where masks have to be worn on boarding, hands sanitised and passengers spaced, pirate taxi drivers are not fussed, packing in the paying customers and quite unconcerned about masking.
Some mushika mushika even boast about their “friends” at the roadblocks. A few metres from the checkpoint along Simon Mazorodze Road, near Mbudzi roundabout, pirate taxis were so daring to the extent of loading passengers in front of police officers.
Officers were observed chatting with pirate taxi drivers who would be loading passengers near the checkpoint. One of the pirate taxi operators said they were not afraid of the police at the roadblock.
The operator also said he was not able to get into the city because of the roadblock just after ZBC Mbare studios and would have to drop off passengers.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi warned officers who were working with pirate taxis and commuter omnibus drivers operating outside the Zupco arrangement that they would be prosecuted.
“We are aware that some pirate taxis are operating during the day and also during the night. Some have been arrested. We know some of these drop passengers before reaching checkpoints for fear of being arrested.
“We are warning pirate taxi and commuter omnibus operators including officers who are working with them that the law will be applied on them.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said the police had so far arrested 26 398 people for defying the lockdown directive since its inception on March 30.
“Most of these were arrested for unnecessary movement. We have been always calling on members of the public to adhere to the lockdown measures.
“We will be scaling up operations to stop these unnecessary movements. We will arrest anyone including officers at roadblocks if they are found on the wrong side of the law.
“They should perform their duties professionally.”