Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
POLICE in Bulawayo have impounded 127 vehicles that were pirating in defiance of the Government’s travel regulations meant to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Government in March banned private public service operators as part of measures to contain the pandemic.

It said all commuter omnibus operators have to register under the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) franchise to be allowed to ferry passengers.

Some of the private operators joined Zupco but others are resisting insisting it’s unfair to force them to operate under Zupco franchise.

In banning the private kombi operators, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works said it was rationalising the public transport sector which had become chaotic.

In the past few weeks, an increasing number of kombis not registered under Zupco and pirate taxis had started to illegally ferry commuters on several routes in Bulawayo.

Zupco kombis are charging $24 per trip while pirate taxis and kombis not registered under Zupco are charging $40 or R10 per trip.

Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele said police have launched an operation to arrest kombis operating illegally and pirate taxis.

“Police in Bulawayo have arrested 127 public service vehicles operating illegally and 100 are kombis, seven buses and 20 pirate taxis (Mshikashika). These vehicles were banned from ferrying passengers locally or plying the intercity routes,” said Asst Insp Msebele.

She said owners of the vehicles should comply with the law if they want their buses or vehicles to be back on the road.

“We urge them to approach relevant ministries to sort out their issues because as the police we will only allow those buses or vehicles that have the relevant papers to be on the road. Members of the public are advised to desist from boarding these vehicles to avoid unnecessary inconveniences as police will impound such vehicles,” she said.

In a statement on Friday, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo expressed concern over the illegal operations of private kombis in cities and towns.

He insisted that only vehicles operating under Zupco are allowed to ferry commuters because the Zupco arrangement has a mechanism to check on Covid-19 regulations compliance.

“The country is not yet out of the woods as we are still recording new Covid-19 cases hence the need to ensure safety measures are enforced by public transporters. The regulations that were put in place to prevent and contain the spread of Covid-19 are not meant to disadvantage those who invested in the transport business or any other sector but to save lives. We note with great concern that the operators who resist working with Zupco are usually those that do not enforce the recommended health protocols meant to curb the spead of the pandemic,” he said.

Minister Moyo said Government directed private kombis and bus operators who intend to operate in Bulawayo Harare, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and other towns to register and work with Zupco. [email protected]